WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Squandered Divinity

By DeReau K. Farrar

“Oh God, was there something that I missed? Did I squander my divinity? Was happiness within me the whole time?”
—lyrics to “Dust and Ashes” by Dave Malloy, from "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812"

The song starts, “Is this how I die?” It's sung by Josh Groban in a Broadway musical I know absolutely nothing about. The combination of all these things was enough to make me immediately check out for the next 5 or so minutes when I heard it recently at a piano bar for showtunes. Oh, oops, I forgot to give you the nerd alert before saying that. Sorry. At any rate, the song started and I got up to go buy a ginger molasses cookie. When I got back to my seat, the song was still going, and the above quote hit me as soon as it was sung.

I believe that every person is created in the image of God, born a replica of divinity. Some people call it "the God within." Others refer to it as the "inherent worth and dignity of every person." Whatever words make sense to us, we all have it. We invoke the spirit of it for ourselves and for others when we see any number of injustices occurring. But, good Lord, when do we ever turn it back on ourselves and question our own habits of squandering our divinity and wasting our capacity to be holy? I'm not necessarily talking about the big-gesture stuff, like rallying against White Supremacy, or donating toward natural disaster relief, or tutoring under privileged children of Color. I'm talking about how we behave in committee meetings, or how we respond to change we don't like, or how we think and talk about those with values different from our own.

Living up to my sacred identity is hard! It means confessing that I have prioritized my own happiness at the expense of others’. It means recognizing that my perspective is no more important than anyone else's. It means being good to those I don't think deserve it. It means remembering that every time I fail to choose grace, or goodness, or peace, I am thoughtlessly squandering my divinity.


That which is in us and all around us and which constantly draws us to our holiest selves, please never stop. Even in those tiny moments when I feel emboldened by my own righteousness, bring me back to godliness and grace. Transform my way of being so that I will see the heart, humanity, and divinity in all and respond in kind. Amen.

About the Author

DeReau K. Farrar

DeReau K. Farrar (he/him/his) is Director of Music at First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon, and President of the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries. In recent years, he has also spent time on the UUA's Commission on Institutional Change and the Black Lives of Unitarian...


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A black-and-white photo of a smoky stage, with a performer under a spotlight (in silhouette)

You can listen to DeReau's reflection here.