Impassioned Clay

Here’s a poem by Ralph Helverson, minister emeritus of the First Parish UU in Cambridge, MA, which he served as minister from 1959 to 1977. The Rev. Dr. Ralph Norman Helverson died April 25, 2007, at Carleton-Willard Village, Bedford, MA, at the age of ninety-five.


Impassioned Clay
by Ralph N. Helverson

Deep in ourselves resides the religious impulse.
Out of the passions of our clay it rises.
We have religion when we stop deluding ourselves that we are self-sufficient, self-sustaining or self-derived.

We have religion when we hold some hope beyond the present,
some self-respect beyond our failures.
We have religion when our hearts are capable of leaping up at beauty,
when our nerves are edged by some dream in our heart.
We have religion when we have an abiding gratitude for all
that we have received.

We have religion when we look upon people with all their
failings and still find in them good;
when we look beyond people to the grandeur in nature and to the purpose in our own heart.

We have religion when we have done all that we can,
and then in confidence entrust ourselves to the life that is
larger than ourselves.

Not bad.

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  1. David Verbon’s avatar

    I found this poem to be the perfect message to complement a reflection for a service themed “Spiritual Awakening” we recently presented for the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
    Thank you for including it.

  2. Mardé’s avatar

    Glad you liked it, David. Ralph was a great man.

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