Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Six

The Sixth Day
(Monday, March 11, 2019)

Getting Free of the Debris

“Here is most urgent work for us to do. We today have reached one of those crises in history when old institutions, ideals and habits are being cracked and shattered by the upthrusting force of superhuman growth of meaning and value. But these meanings and values cannot be consummated in the experience of human living until this old obstructive debris is taken out of the way. Such is the present state of society. In face of such a situation anyone who thinks that God will do it all and we have nothing to do is wrapped in a blanket of delusion. It may be that we will refuse to do this work. If so, it will never be done and the great opportunity of this age to experience the superhuman flowering of meaning and value will pass. In that case future historians will say: a springtime of history hovered near and then departed. After that winter came.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

We sometimes forget that creative growth can be uncomfortable. Have you ever watched a snake struggle to cast off its old skin, or a lobster its shell. Probably not, because during and after that arduous process, it is extremely vulnerable. Yet it is imperative for further growth and development, and even for continued life. We, too, outgrow our original families, and create new ones of our own. Nationalism had its proper day, and now our increasing interdependence requires international institutions, Individualistic entrepreneurism has given way to the multinational conglomerate, which in turn will require a large degree of international democratic, socialistic planning if its operations are to be serviceable for the whole and not exploitative of the many for the few. What is the “obstructive debris” in the institutions of our time which must still be cleared away by us, if God is to be free to do creative work among us?  (Donald Szantho Harrington)


Initiating God, You are the creative force at work in everything, everywhere. You see, You requiremore and more mutual support, enhancement and meaning to emerge in all our human ways. Help us to see where our old ideas and habits, our old fears and failures, or even our successes, may be holding You back. Let us be ever watchful for the emergence of the new and unafraid of the necessary casting off of the old body of life. Amen.


Spirit of God in thunder speak
To rouse us from our sluggish joy;
Our soft content accursed make,
Our peace which sharpest pain alloy.

Bid us go forth where doubt hath wrung
Our hope from out the aching breast;
Where all is dark, and for our feet,
Far wandering, there is no rest.

There be our place! O there be heard.
Thy voice a clarion wringing clear—
To rouse the sleepers, raise the dead,
And stay the faint with hope and cheer!

—John White Chadwick (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 322)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980.