Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Twenty-three

The Twenty-third Day              
(Thursday, March 28, 2019)

In the Midst of All Ruin

“To be converted . . . is to learn that every specific organization of existence is an obstacle to the realization of further possibilities. After it is achieved it must be gotten out of the way to clear the path for these fuller values. . . . Thus success and failure, fulfillment and frustration life and death, take on a different significance to one who is converted to high religion. Such a one knows that every form of existence must perish in order that further possibilities of value and meaning may be realized. Supreme conversion is to have that re-direction of interests by which we can perish and see our work perish and our loved ones, without loss of hope or courage or zeal. In the midst of all ruin there is a glory which abides. In the midst of all success there is a tragedy which lingers. 

“Many people find nothing in the world of such abiding worth that they feel inclined to live for it supremely. There is nothing that draws their diverse interests together and toward another . . . Such people are lost souls. . . .

“To be saved means, first, to be controlled by a loyalty which integrates the personality and releases all its powers in adoration and service of a cause that gives most inclusive meaning to life for that individual. To find such a cause and live for it in this way is to be converted.

“To be saved means, second, to belong to a unity of life in which one functions as a member, being sustained by the whole and helping to sustain the whole. When one becomes a functional member in such a sustaining and inclusive organization of activities, one is converted.

“It means, third, to be held to this loyalty and in the keeping of this unity by a power greater than one’s own voluntary effort. To find oneself in the keeping of such a power is to experience conversion.

“Finally it means to be lifted beyond all disillusionment because one lives in a growth which moves on to new fulfillments with the perishing of the old. One enters this kind of living by way of supreme conversion.” (Wieman & Wieman)

Jesus once asked, “What shall it profit you if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?” Yet, it may be possible to gain the whole world, and thereby win one’s own soul, if the gaining be by entering into a fully shared, mutually supportive relation with as much of the cosmos as one at any moment can encompass. To aim for this, and to work for it with all one’s might, is to enjoy supreme conversion. (Donald Szantho Harrington)


Transforming God, help us to feel at-one-ment with all of Your Being-Becoming by finding ways to live helpfully with all our fellow creatures. Grant us the joy of reverence for all life. Amen.


Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mother’s arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in this grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

—Martin Rinkart (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 262)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, No. 19)

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.