Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Twelve

The Twelfth Day
(Sunday, March 17, 2019)

Self-Criticism—Dynamic Patience—Aspiration

“An open and constructive attitude toward limitations of the self characterizes genuine religious living . . . Normally, self-criticism grows out of an awareness of the greater possibilities for growth ever glimpsed in the search for value and Supreme Value. It takes place without despair of morbidity or marked discouragement. It provides incentive, illumination, challenge and aspiration for creative growth.

“Patience has been a predominant characteristic of religious living until recently . . . Great values issue from dynamic patience, whereas dumb or weak passivity is devilish.

“Aspiration is a thoroughly essential characteristic . . . It is the inevitable consequence of loyalty to that which one holds to be The Highest. The realization of one’s own limitations [in relation to The Highest], perhaps to the point of feelings of inferiority, sets up a process of projection of the self toward the great rich possibilities on beyond present realizations . . . The act of prayer is a revelation of aspiration, a longing to put the self into communication or touch with that worshipped.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

Growing requires a certain balance of dis-ease, of dis-satisfaction with one’s self and present accomplishment and a sense of the great potential within which remains awaiting realization. It takes unremitting faith and patience to keep the balance on the positive side. Religion can do this for us. (Donald Szantho Harrington)


Aspiring God, You know, as well as we, how far short we fall from realizing our high calling as children of Your Larger Life. Help us to keep trying, to be patient with ourselves as long as we continue to move towards the great goal. Amen.


It is so long a way that I must go,
A pilgrim in a country that is strange!
Only my distant city do I know,
And all the rest is changelessness and change.

The changeless way that all my forebears trod,
The way of life, that is so old, so old!
And yet so changeful that each travelled rod
Discloses alterations manifold!

It is so strange a way that I must go,
I scarcely know how I might best prepare.
Only my distant city do I know,
And all my heart is willed to conquer there.

O brave to tread the way as yet untrod,
Undaunted by the dangers that I see;
This is the spirit I would show to God
Who showed my distant city unto me!

—Charles M. Luce (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 551)

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