Rev. Raymond John Baughan

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

Raymond John Baughan had a remarkable career as a Universalist and eventually Unitarian Universalist minister. His career spanned 53 years including 12 full-time assignments and 11 more interim assignments after his “retirement”. Reverend Baughan was the minister of our congregation from 1962 to 1964. He also served an interim assignment with the First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati. In addition to his legacy as a minister, he also left behind a plethora of meditations and poetry. He published six books of meditations and poetry including his most often quoted The Sound of Silence, published one year before Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence. Below are a few samples of his works.

From The Breaking of Bread published in 1951:

When the heart is persuaded, it knows no sacrifice.
In giving and forgiving, we become ourselves.
It is when our inner law is not being expressed
that we become concerned with the cost.

From The Sound of Silence published in 1965:

Here in the space between us and the world
lies human meaning.
Into the vast uncertainty we call.
The echos make our music,
sharp equations which can hold the stars,
and marvelous mythologies we trust.
This may be all we need to lift our love
against indifference and pain.
Here in the space between us and each other
lies all the future
of the fragment of the universe
which is our own.

From Undiscovered Country published in 1946:

The secret of happiness is in knowing this: that we live by the law of expenditure. We find greatest joy, not in getting, but in expressing what we are. There are tides in the ocean of life, and what comes in depends on what goes out. The currents flow inward only where there is an outlet. Nature does not give to those who will not spend; her gifts are loaned to those who will use them. Empty your lungs and breathe. Run, climb, work, and laugh; the more you give out, the more you shall receive. Be exhausted, and you shall be fed. Men do not really live for honors or for pay; their gladness is not in the taking and holding, but in the doing, the striving, the building, the living. It is a higher joy to teach than to be taught. It is good to get justice, but better to do it; fun to have things but more happy to make them. The happy man is he who lives the life of love, not for the honors it may bring, but for the life itself.

Reverend Baughan’s son, William, followed his father into the ministry. He recently retired as a UU pastor from a church in Palmer, Massachusetts. When queried about his favorite writings of his father, he mentioned several including the following, also from The Sound of Silence.

When I am alive,
a wonder goes through me
as spring goes through a seed.

A bursting bud’s the universe.

And nothing hurries;
everything is new.

the world’s a symphony.
More music follows music;
the meaning is the sound;
and sound’s a sail.

the world’s a carnival
of flashing scarlet,
green defining gold
that chases umber.
The patterns flow from form to form
like shadows from the sun.

When I live,
I celebrate this light, this sound.
What lifts the birds into the air
lifts me.

The spirit skips and frolics
like a kite,
and like the rain on rock
my senses chant applause.