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Prayers for Today: Herbert F. Vetter

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Herbert F. Vetter

Herbert F. Vetter

HERBERT F. VETTER (1923- 2014). Minister at Large, Emeritus, of the First Parish in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist, where he founded Cambridge Forum national radio and public television broadcasts and was a chaplain to Harvard University. Editor of Speak Out: Against the New Right and The Heart of God: Prayers of Rabindranath TagoreRead More…


The archer hits the target partly by pulling, partly by letting go;
the boatman reaches the landing partly by pulling, partly by letting go.

Before You, O God, I would learn the rhythm of relaxed strength. I would find my quiet, constant rhythm in society and solitude, work and play, duty and pleasure—in all of my relations with persons and with groups. In worship I would find You as the Many-in-One uniting all these opposites; I would find You whose presence is fullness of joy.

In You do I put my trust, O God. Whether I move against or with the stream, You are my strength. Through Your constant movement through life’s ebb and flow, day and night, summer and winter, I find the wholesome rhythm of my own life.

Let there be fused within my spirit the moving waters of upstream-downstream faith. When swinging upstream, my soul exults in risk and danger, embracing the uncertainty of new adventure, keeping the fibers of the mind forever tough. When carried downstream to my destination without a struggle, I would inscribe upon the memory the full security of trust: In You I am relaxed and reassured partly by pulling, partly by letting go.


Blessed are You, O Bountiful Power,
Who feeds us and gives life to our flesh,
Who fills our hearts with joy and happiness,
And helps us to help others to be whole.


God of Beauty, quick to forgive the truly penitent heart: sensing our mistrust of self and one another, we place our confidence in You. Admitting our weakness, we place reliance on Your power. Acknowledging our ignorance, we trust in Your wisdom. Confessing our lovelessness, we affirm Your love. By Your sacred beauty, restore our lives that we may be children of Your light and love.


In the silence, O God, You constantly surround our growing life.

We know You in the silence of the healing wound, the muteness of tenderness, the quiet growth within the sleeping child, the unspoken bonds uniting friend and friend, the still intensity of meditation, the soundless splendor of our changing seasons.

We know You in the sacred silence of our bodies: the secret movement of the hidden cells, the noiseless restoration of the tissues’ balance, the unheard ebb and flow within each artery and vein.

We know You in the magic silence of our minds: the mystery of memory, retaining afterimages of childhood, youth, and later years; the miracle of imagination, whereby we behold our visions of the city unattained; the marvel of attention, when the mind is focused to absorption on some needful task.

We know You in the hidden silence of our hearts: the never uttered depths of love between a man and a woman, a teacher and a student, a parent and a child; the art of being altogether for another; the faith restoring fact that someone else is utterly for you.

We know You in the fateful silences of faith. We know You in the sacrament of silence.


Tame my heart, O God.
Trim my illusions.
Subdue these wild desires that lead to nowhere:

The desire to seem much wiser and much better than I am;
The desire to win, win, win, and never lose;
The desire to retreat when life cries for advance.

This is my prayer to You and to myself:
I pray for inward honesty, for disciplines of soul;
I pray that You will shatter my illusions and tame my restless heart.


May we forever hope in the possibilities of life;
May we forever share the adventures of ideas;
May we know peace through not expecting the impossible;
May we know joy through helping what is possible come true.