This is a devotional prayer if ever I heard one.
And I suspect this text, by Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, would make some Unitarian Universalists squeamish, this whole-hearted surrender to the Divine. Yet it is a vital theological perspective found in our congregations – even if those who adhere to it might not say it aloud very much.
For me and my theology, I could use a little whole-hearted surrender now and then. We talk a lot about the expansiveness of God’s love in our Universalist theology, but then we try to place limits on how much love we’ll give back, in the name of reason, as though a devotion to the Eternal One means we have less devotion to give to each other and the planet.
Here’s the thing about love: it really, truly, honestly is limitless. The first line of There Is More Love Somewhere isn’t about a gathering of resources, it’s an opening to what already exists. So what happens when we do give the whole and not the part of ourselves to that which is bigger than ourselves, which some call Spirit of Life, or Holy One, or Collective Unconscious, or God? What happens when we surrender?
Your mercy, Oh Eternal one by no heart measured yet;
in joy, or grief, or shade, or sun I never will forget.
I give the whole and not the part of all you gave to me;
my goods, my life, my soul, my heart I yield them all as free.
And when in silent awe we wait, and word and sign forebear,
the hinges of the golden gate move soundless at our prayer.
I can tell you what happened when I surrendered: I heard the call to ministry.
And here’s the truth: by giving myself whole-heartedly to that something greater, I regularly challenge my perspective, my ego, my deeply held beliefs, my way of doing things. Whole-hearted devotion doesn’t mean losing yourself, it means losing the things that no longer serve or help. In fact, I am more in touch with my mind, my reason, the needs of others, the call to justice, the healing and transforming power of love.
Maybe we need a little less skepticism and a little more devotion.
We need a little more whole-heartedness.
I can’t let this go by without a mention of the tune, Dundee. While most of the tune is rather typical of psalter tunes from the British Isles, the first line is magical. There’s something about the closing of the interval in the second phrase of the line that is delicious and warm and other words I can’t access at the moment. It’s a powerful musical moment for me.
Today’s pic is another beautiful image by photographer Jeremy Garretson. Go look, then buy his stuff.
[…] number one: the words and melody were written by Rabindranath Tangore, whose poetry we also find in Your Mercy, O Eternal One and Now I Recall My Childhood. That we also now have one of his melodies here I think is […]