The Twenty-seventh Day
(Monday, April 1, 2019)
Outstretched Wings of the Spirit
“Certain attitudes of the personality are like the outstretched wings of a bird which catch the wind in such a way that they are lifted into heights of the sky. Vultures soar into the blue until they are invisible, mounting in a spiral, but never moving their wings. Their outspread wings, while motionless, are adjusted to the upper currents of air in such a way that they are lifted ever higher. Certain attitudes of the personality are like the outstretched wings of the bird. Prayer is adjusting the personality to God in such a way that God can work more potently for good than otherwise, as the outstretched wings of a bird enable the rising currents to carry it to higher levels.
“But what is God? The idea of prayer is inextricably involved in the idea of God. The present confusion in thought and practice of prayer is due to the present confusion in thought about God . . . God is the growthof meaning and value in the world. This growth consists of increase in those connections between activities which make the activities mutually sustaining, mutually enhancing and mutually meaningful . . . Prayer is the conscious attempt directly to adjust one’s own personality to God, often to the end of the attaining some specific result.” (Wieman & Wieman)
Prayer, in one form or another, has always been the heart and soul of the deeply religious life. But because our concepts of God have become unreal, the practice of prayer has faded. Once one regains an intellectually acceptable concept of God, the ability to pray, to enter into an emotional relationship with our deepest, dearest Being-Becoming, returns full-blown and ready for daily use. (Donald Szantho Harrington)
Infinite yet Intimate God, You are always near us—around, under, over, behind, before, within, “closer to us than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.” Grant that we may be always aware of Your Everlasting Arms holding and sustaining us. You are the “Love which will not let us go.” Amen.
We pray no more, made lowly wise,
For miracle and sign;
Anoint our eyes to see within
The common, the divine.
‘Lo here! Lo there!’ no more we cry,
Dividing with our call
The mantle of thy presence, God,
That seamless covers all.
We turn from seeking thee afar,
And in unwonted ways,
To build from out our daily lives
The temples of thy praise.
—Frederick Lucian Hosmer (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 274)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 188)
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.