A secular prayer


Last week it was my honor to participate in USC’s baccalaureate service. Thrilled as I was to be included, I was a bit nonplussed when Dean Soni asked me to offer a Scriptural Reading. After all, we secularists have no holy books. While most of my interfaith brothers and sisters consider their favorite texts holy because of who wrote or inspired them, for us words only become sacred if and when they accurately describe something of ultimate value and supreme importance. Thankfully, my friend Gretta Vosper supplied me with this secular prayer, which beautifully fit into Dean Soni’s overall theme of mindfulness.

Set in the corner, three feet tall,
head bent, outrageous act exposed,
we learned the difference between right and wrong.

Easy then, the line clear and well-defined;
“wrong is wrong” and “right is right”
divided the choice of our youth with simple precision.

But now, intricacies we do not understand underscore our complicities,
and the line has grown faint.
Where shall we set ourselves now, bow our heads to pay our dues,
or is penance even possible?

May we welcome moments of reflection, that expose to us the truths of who we are,
not for the “strengthening of character” they might bring
but simply for our coming to know the tangled wonder of our inner selves.

Such knowledge is hard to find.

Into our reflection, we peer at who we are
and as we gaze at ourselves – study the lines, colours, curves of our own faces –
we miss entirely who we really are.
It is as though a layer of imperfection distorts the glass,
hiding our true selves even from eyes yearning to see.
It is as though we were masked, hidden within the projection of what we should see.

May we learn to comprehend beyond the transmission of our optic nerves,
grow senses that might find us out and touch, feel, listen for
the truths of who we are.
And when we find them, may we wrap them once again in our own holiness,
which is our love.

As those able to cherish the unfolding moments of our lives, we pray,

By | 2017-11-17T15:58:11+00:00 May 22nd, 2015|Blog|

About the Author:

Bart Campolo is a secular community builder, counselor and writer who currently serves as the Humanist Chaplain at the University of Cincinnati. Listen to his podcast HERE!