Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Twenty-five

The Twenty-fifth Day               
(Saturday, March 30, 2019)

An Illimitable Realm

“The redemptive  process delivers one into this way of living: From inner conflict or stagnation to progressive integration of personalities; from personal powers confined to personal powers released; from a disjunct personality to a conjunct one; from a sense of insecurity to a profound and indestructible peace; from specific objectives that imprison and perish , to a total objective that is eternal; from bondage to an established social pattern of life to a pattern that opens out into an illimitable realm of possible value and meaning.

“The institutions and prevalent ideals of modern society represent and order which is at one time connected with activities of people in mutual support with one another and the physical processes of nature so as to give meaning and value to life. But machinery and scientific techniques have elicited new activities, and put us into new relations of interaction with the physical processes of nature, so that this old order no longer connects activities in mutual support. It no longer gives the meaning and value to life which once it did. But the older order is still with us, unfitted though it be to modern conditions . . . 

“A new order is expressed in new institutions and ideals of society must be developed and is being developed. But the development is not fast enough. Human activities and their interactions with physical nature keep changing faster than the new order is developed. Hence the established order becomes more and more obstructive to the growth of meaning and value in life, and more and more obstructive to that mutual support which is required by human beings. . . .

“This shackling of the social processes by outworn institutions constitutes a crisis. The redemptive process for society would be a reordering of institutions, ideals and customs which would restore mutual support and release growth of meaning. In such a reordered society the redemptive process of the individual could occur more readily and more completely.” (Wieman & Wieman)

It is not enough for persons to be born again, and yet again. Society, too, must constantly be reborn and renewed to meet the demands of ever-increasing human and environmental interdependence. There comes a time when unchanging social institutions hamper or even prevent individual, personal redemption. Then, such institutions must be changed. As they are made by people, so must they be changed by them. (Donald Szantho Harrington)


Goading God, make us quick to face the reality of social wrong, and brave to make it right. For Your Kingdom of Love’s sake. Amen.


Rise, my soul, and stretch thy wings,
Thy better portion trace.
Rise from transitory things
Toward heav’n thy native place!
Sun and moon and stars decay,
Time shall soon this earth remove:
Rise, my soul, and haste away
To seats prepared above!

Rivers to the ocean run,
Nor stay in all their course;
Fire, ascending, seeks the sun;
Both speed them to their source:
So a soul that’s born of God
Pants to view God’s glorious face.
Forward tends to God’s abode
To rest in God’s embrace.

—Robert Seagrave (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 62)

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.