Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Twenty-four

The Twenty-fourth Day            
(Friday, March 29, 2019)

Every Objective a Prison House

“What is this power, mightier than voluntary effort of the individual, that holds and keeps us in the larger unity that gives the meaning of life to us? When our interests and activities are woven into meaningful connection, a wide and growing system of activities which give meaning to life, we are held in that unity by the total organization of which we are a part, and not by our own voluntary effort. This is a common fact of experience. We have no power to break away from such a fellowship and unity of meaningful activities. They hold us and keep us. . . . We who are thus saved are able to recover in spirit from disaster. We have ‘overcome the world.’

“The redemptive process is progressive deliverance from bondage to limited objectives, inner conflict and stagnated spirit . . . To be redeemed is to be awakened to responsiveness. . . .

“Every objective is a prison house to the human spirit if it falls short of the infinite possibilities of meaning which inhere in the cosmos. Nothing less than the wholeness of God can house the human soul with a dome so vast as to release all these potentialities for living. The redemptive process is the way we are released into this freedom and fullness of God. God is the infinite growth of meaning.” (Wieman & Wieman)

“The freedom and fullness of God.” It is this we all supremely seek, and would serve, for it alone can give the greatest meaning to our lives. As we grow older, if we are sensitive, we begin to ask, “Have I lived enough, loved enough, given enough, shared enough? Have I contributed enough?” And the answer is always Yes and No. Perhaps I have done all I could at any particular moment, but there still remains an unfulfilled potential beckoning ahead. To feel that pull towards perfection, and to mark some progress along that path is life’s greatest joy and reassurance. (Donald Szantho Harrington)


God of All, stretch our souls, open wide our hearts, that day by day we may more and more fully know the freedom of Your fullness. Amen.


Go forth, O child of earth!
Still mindful of thy heavenly birth;
Thou art not here for ease, or sin,
But virtue’s noble crown to win.

Tho’ passion’s fires are in thy soul,
Thy spirit can their flame control;
Tho’ tempters strong beset thy way,
Thy spirit is more strong then they.

Go on from innocence of youth
To full grown pureness, full grown truth:
God’s angels still are near to save.
And God of all doth help the brave.

Then forth to life, O child of earth!
Be worthy of thy heavenly birth!
For noble service thou art here;
Thy brethren help, thy God revere!

—Samuel Longfellow (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 290)

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.