Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Twenty-one

The Twenty-first Day                
(Tuesday, March 26, 2019)

As a Plant is Ready to Burst into Bloom

“All genuine conversion is an incident in the process of growth of meaning and value . . . Since it is caused by growth of meaning and value, and since God is that kind of growth, conversion is caused by God . . . Conversion is that change of personality by which the individual is received into the life of God.

“While all conversion is an incident in growth, there is a certain kind which is peculiarly a crisis. One develops to a certain point where the personality is ripe for some new venture in living. But this new way of living cannot begin until certain further conditions are provided. When these arise one finds oneself quite suddenly and gloriously in the midst of this new way of living. As a plant is ready to burst into bloom when the warm sun and rain come, so a personality may be already to flower when certain needed conditions are brought about. We find ourselves living abundantly with interests, loyalties, sensitivities, appreciations we never knew we had. Prior growth had developed in us the capacity for them, but they could not blossom, until we began this kind of work, made this kind of personal contact, read those books, had the fellowship of this group, entered this kind of discussion, or whatever the required conditions may be . . . This kind of transformation may come suddenly. It may seem miraculous, in a day, in a night, we are living in a new world. . . .

“One may undergo an emotional experience which one and others may think is conversion, but in which no important change in personality and way of living takes place. This is a false conversion . . ., there is no genuine reorientation of personality.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

Some liberal religionists think they have outgrown the traditional concepts of sin and salvation, that they have no need for conversion, no need to be “redeemed.” But the truth is that all of us have repeated conversion-type experiences when some new insight opens us to new and broader loyalties. I well remember when I first became aware of the reality of poverty, and the injustice suffered by many at the bottom of our society. My old world of complacent indifference fell to pieces, and a new commitment of my life to “liberty and justice for all” took its place. (Donald Szantho Harrington)


God of growth, Your Larger Life within our own little lives keeps bursting the comfortable bonds of habit we cherish. You cast us into crises of uncomfortable opportunity again and yet again. You break us open to more and more glorious loving. Thank you, God of Growth. Amen.


One God there is, all gods above;
The name is Truth, the name is Love,
The name is Beauty, it is Light,
God’s will is everlasting Right.

But ah! To wrong what is the name?
This God is a Consuming Flame
To ev’ry wrong beneath the sun;
This is one God, the Holy One.

God of the Everlasting Name,
Truth, Beauty, Light, Consuming Flame!
Shall I not lift my heart to thee,
And ask thee, God, to rule in me?

—William Brightly Rands (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 293)

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.