First, I need to say a prayer for Key West, and really all of south Florida this morning. I have friends who are still on the island (mostly they are first responders, public works folk, or other government officials), and they are getting hit so very hard as I type. I’ve seen a few videos of storm surge waters in Bahama Village and trees down on Smathers Beach, and I am holding a fair amount of anxiety right now. And then I go preach on the benefits of spiritual practice. (And actually, this is helping, this spiritual practice right here… because I had to stop, be still, and be present with myself and God for a few minutes.)
I keep coming back to a line written by Susan Frederick-Gray, and highlighted for me by an amazing service by Erika Hewitt: “No one is outside the circle of love.”
To be honest, it’s really changed my thinking about our principles and even our understanding of Unitarian Universalism’s history – that at every moment we have had the choice to expand the circle of love, or not, both theologically and ethically. I’m still pondering, but this aspiration that no one be outside the circle of love has captured my ministerial imagination.
And I think I just found one of my new anthems – this short, old hymn. The lyrics are by our old friend Sam Longfellow, set to the familiar Winchester New (the same tune is sung for As Tranquil Streams).
I mean, check out this lyric:
With joy we claim the growing light,
advancing thought, and widening view,
the larger freedom, clearer sight,
which from the old unfold the new.
With wider view, come loftier goal;
with fuller light, more good to see;
with freedom, truer self-control;
with knowledge, deeper reverence be.
Our man Sam is calling for us draw the circles ever wider, the circles of vision, and freedom, and knowledge, and goodness.
Not bad, Sam. I didn’t know this one existed, really, so it gets a Hidden Gem tag from me.
And when I am finally ready to preach on this, I have one of our hymns.
This has been one of my many favorites!