Outstretched Wings of the Spirt, Day Four

The Fourth Day
(Saturday, March 9, 2019)

More than a Scarlet Poppy

“Watch meaning grow in the personality of a child. . . . Watch the development from random activities that fling hither and thither without meaning save the pleasure and pain of physical contact, to a total system of meanings, a point of maturity which gathers up the rich heritage of uncounted centuries, which reaches down to comprehend the infinitesimal movements of atoms and electrons, which grasps off to the galaxies of a planetary culture and plumbs the mysteries of the human heart.

“The human individual undergoesthis growth; one does not doit. The intelligence cannot do it because it is the very intelligence itself that grows. The individual undergoes this growth as sunshine, air and earth undergo transformation into a scarlet poppy. A human can do more than the poppy. A human can seek out the conditions that are required for this growth and for its greater abundance. Above all, we can yield ourselves in blessed abandon to the transforming power of it. But we undergo it; we do not do it. . . .

“A person can certainly do a great deal to improve himself or herself by discipline, by living according to sound principles, by self-consciously cultivating virtues and abilities. All this may be indispensable to the higher reaches of goodness. But these higher reaches must come as the flowers do, when one has done all one can to provide for them.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

Persons must choose. They must seek to create the conditions, personal and social, in which growth of mutuality of life can take place. They must find the courage to overcome selfish aims and personal profit, and yield themselves to Love’s transforming power. Then they will find their lives becoming more and more rich and varied, exciting and fulfilling as they become helpfully intertwined with those of others.  (Donald Szantho Harrington)


Blessed God, why is it so hard for me to find myself in my brother’s or sister’s face? Why cannot I see my own impoverishment in the listless eyes of unemployed youth or the crazed stare of the criminal caught? Can I not do more to help create conditions in which all might grow in the ability to love? Amen.


Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, God, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my love: my God, I pour
At thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

—Frances Ridley Havergal (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 277)

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.