Let This Be A House of Peace: Unitarian Universalism

Our theme for the month of October is taken from the song “Let This Be A House of Peace” written by Jim Scott, but inspired by Unitarian Universalist prophet and poet Kenneth Patton (1911-1994).  Patton led a fascinating life making significant contributions to what we now know as Unitarian-Universalsim.  His speaking, writing and other works often brought together social justice, art, song, and a vision for a “religion for one world.”  In that line alone, we might hear inspiration behind the words of this song.

Let this be a house of peace
Of nature and humanity, of sorrow and elation
Let this be our house
A haven for the healing
An open room for question,
And our inspiration

Let this be a house of peace,
Let this be a house of peace.

This house of peace known as Unitarian Universalism has deep roots in “natural humanism.” Describing this natural humanism, it was said of Kenneth Patton: “It was he who taught a monotone rationalism how to sing; it was he who taught a stumble-footed humanism how to dance; it was he who cried ‘Look!’ and taught our eyes to see the glory in the ordinary.”

Let this be a house of freedom;
Guardian of dignity and worth held deep inside us
Let this be our house
A platform for the free voice,
Where all our sacred differences
here shall not divide us.

Let this be a house of peace,
Let this be a house of peace.

Echoes of our first principle: the dignity and worth of every human being, this house of peace called Unitarian Universalism has deep roots in the work for social justice especially in the issues around racial justice.  Patton rocked the world of his day by saying that he wished that “he were a colored man” launching himself into work for racial equality in Chicago.

Let all in this house seek truth
Where scientists and mystics abide in reverence here
Let this be our house
A house of our creation
Where works of art and melodies consecrate the atmosphere

Let this be a house of peace,
Let this be a house of peace.

This house of peace called Unitarian Universalism is no place to divide the sciences from mysticism from art.  There is a unity in them all as they seek to find and express truth in the world.

Let this be a house of prophecy
May vision for our children be our common theme
Let this be their house
Of myth and lore and legend
Their trove of ancient story
and cradle of their tender dreams.

Let this be a house of peace,
Let this be a house of peace.

Peace is calm and serenity, a cessation of strife.  But, true peace is also dynamic and often is won through a turbulence caused by confronting our fears and the deceptions that arise out of them.  This house of peace which we call Unitarian Universalism offers us personal peace, quiet and rest–but it also always challenges us to live our best humanity in this one world.  As we reflect on this song and its messages, we should prepare to be challenged as well as consoled.  That’s what happens in the house of peace.

Bob Patrick

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