Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Thirteen

The Thirteenth Day                  
(Monday, March 18, 2019)

Sudden New Light

“Detachment qualifies religious behavior. The absorption in religious matters felt to be vital tends to divert attention and participation from many of the ordinary, so-called secular, interests of living. The ‘world’ does not have power over devotees, for they are in, but not entirely of, the world. They have selected that which they believe to be the Supremely Worthful.  . . . Detachment involves perspective, it enables us to see things somewhat in the whole. Having a supreme objective, we see different situations relative to this. We are not so panicky in the presence of certain aspects because we see them as connected with some greatly larger aspect. . . . Perspective promotes poise and balance. Also, persons who are marked by a worthy sense of detachment tend to arrive at a more original evaluation of things and processes. They do not so readily accept the current or formulated interpretations. . . . Again, perspective tends to imply a sense of humor, an ability to look objectively upon experiences, including our own. Behavior in which we take ourselves over-seriously as against the totality of our cause, is irreligious. It disintegrates the personality. Humor, laughter, many times are announcements of sudden new light upon value or of true interpretation of life.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

To be non-self-referent, to be able to stand off from oneself, and see oneself from an objective viewpoint, is a good worth cultivating. It invites insight, humor, self-correction, increasing self-confidence. It helps one to rise above daily frustrations and to overcome human inadequacies. It leads one to give oneself to God’s larger purposes. (Donald Szantho Harrington)


Lord of All Life, grant that we may see ourselves as others do, yes, even as in Your sight, that we may laugh at our foolishness and not be afraid of being lost in it, knowing that we can overcome. Amen.


I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail cries,
The world confess its sin.

Yet in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed stake my spirit clings—
I know that God is good.

The wrong that pains my soul below
I dare not throne above;
I know not of God’s hate—I know
The goodness and the love.

And thou, O Lord, by whom are seen
Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me, if too close I lean
My human heart on thee!

—John Greenleaf Whittier (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 256)

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.