Eternal Spirit, life of our minds and breath of our being: strangely do we walk though the days of our years, unseeing, unhearing, inatten tive, though the glory of life is all about us. We wrap ourselves up in the petty and trivial, shutting out life’s promise. We are afraid of life—and its mighty claim upon us—and we wall ourselves in, thinking to be safe.
Break down our walls, O God! Blow upon the barriers we
have built to keep us paltry. Let them all be swept away!
IF WE COME TO YOU
Eternal Spirit, who dwells in the hearts of those who seek You: if we come to You in joy, may we draw strength from the experience; if we come in sorrow, touch us with Your great compassion; if we have lost our way, and the darkness has overtaken us, may the light of Your pres ence appear before us that we may see our path; if we come to You weak and discouraged and know not where to turn, may we recall the resources You have given us. Illumine our minds with a vision of the future’s promise.
Eternal Spirit, who gives wisdom, show us how much of what we pray for in the world about us is waiting to be found within ourselves.
Give us to know, O God, how vain are all our hopes, how empty all our prayers, until we ourselves are ready to fulfill them.
THE FRESHNESS OF CREATION
God of the morning of the world, at the sound of whose voice cre ation wakes and sings, open our hearts to the gladness of the earth. May the freshness of creation cleanse our souls. Forgive us that we go on our way in haste. Lift up our eyes! May we see the wonder all about us, from the most fragile petal on the tiniest of blooms to the miracle of a new blade of grass. We thank You for this revelation of Yourself that never grows old. May the beauty of Your world breathe into our spirits.
BREATHE YET AGAIN
How can we come to You, O God, with hearts that we have closed to one another?
O Holy One, remind us! We are Your children, all, lighted by the same precarious flame. How foolish are our walls of prejudice, our emp ty pride!
O patient God, take pity on us! You who breathed into us the one breath of our common life, breathe yet again, and bring us to our souls’ awakening.
HOW LONG, O GOD?
How long must it be, O God—for our years grow shorter—before we are ready for our duty? All about us are the miseries of human in justice and oppression. When shall we be one with the destitute, the dispossessed, opening our hearts to the downcast and the weary? These are flesh of our flesh, bearing Your image and breathing Your breath within them. They are pilgrims with us, one in hope and yearning. O God, when we pray for a better world, joyous and peaceful, with all its banners bright, help us to see that we ourselves must bring this world to pass, and take us to where our work is waiting for us.
GRATITUDE AND FORTITUDE
In our ever changing world so full of what is wonderful, help us, O God, to accept with gratitude all that gladdens us, and to accept with fortitude all that brings us grief.
May we take time to watch the morning and the evening skies, to look often and long at the marvellous earth and all that lives upon it, to be with heart and soul a friend and neighbor and a part of humankind.
We rejoice in the heritage bequeathed to us from yesterday as we celebrate festivals of faith and hope.
May we be learning always, from all that we see and do, and from all that happens to us;’ and if shadows overtake us, may we not dim within ourselves the light that helps others to live.
The love I can no longer give to my beloved, help me, O God, to give to those who need it. Save me from frozenness of heart! Make my compassion deeper, my sympathy wider. Melt away my bitterness, and let my sorrow teach me to be gentle. If so much that is precious can so soon be lost, let me cherish what remains; and let me be the nurturer of things precious in the lives of others.
May we remember, O God, that from those to whom much has been given, much is expected.
TIME AND TIMELESSNESS
O God of timeless ages, in whom the past, the present, and the future meet: we bow our heads before the everlasting. Our years come and go swiftly. Soon we children of an hour must give back to You the breath that gave us life. Yet the voice of faith sings in our nighttime. The silence speaks; the darkness glows. Amid the haste, we see the march of desti nies and feel Your presence as our dust is lighted with immortal power.
NOT IN THE CLOVEN SKIES
O God, the quest of ages, found and lost and sought anew in ev ery generation: may we understand more plainly what it means to seek Your presence. We heard that You would come in splendor, cleaving the skies, but this we know is but a dream. O God, may we amend our seek ing, for we ourselves know better. We have heard You speak wherever truth is spoken; we have seen You in life’s loveliness; we have felt Your presence in all brave and generous deeds. We would find You where You are, O God, in our daily common life.
O God, when the shame of what we are is upon us, touch us with the hope of our becoming.
O God, when we thank You for what is given to us and not to others, let us remember to pray softly, for there will be many who overhear.
THE GREATER LOSS
When we remember, O God, those we have loved and lost, we re member also that not to have loved would have been far greater loss.
A. Powell Davies (1902–1957) rose to prominence as one of America’s most forthright liberal spokesman from his position as pastor at All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, DC from 1944 until his death. All Souls attendance grew to overflowing the church building, and seven new churches were established outside the city. He published several books on the Dead Sea Scrolls and America’s Real Religion.