Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Month: August, 2015

Within These Walls

I always enjoyed walking around the city of Chicago in the winter. The long stretches of concrete and skyscrapers felt more imposing and present than in the summer months. If you could withstand the sudden gusts of wind that paid no mind to how many layers of clothing you were wearing — you were in for one astonishing walk.

Blue-greys reflected off every window, steam rose from the sidewalk vents and sewers, and the people were in even more of a rush than usual — forming tight clusters of wool jackets and puffy coats all headed onward to whatever their location. I especially enjoyed these walks in the most brutal of winter months — January.

In January I had regular classes in seminary and commuted down every morning and made the mile and a half walk from the train station to the school near the lakefront. I took note of the familiar faces I would see every day. The Salvation Army volunteer always stood at the end of a long indoor tunnel handing out their magazine for donations.

An older grandmotherly type passed out resumes under the nude stone formations of the lyric opera building. And countless others demanded ones attention — beggars, street musicians, campaigners and protesters, confident evangelists, and peddlers of street market goods. All the while — everyone else just wanted to get to somewhere warmer. Read the rest of this entry »

Some New Kind of Adventure

Our reading today is title, “Things to Watch While You Drive” by Joyce Sutphen, the Poet Laureate of Minnesota

The trees, slipping
across the fields, changing places with
barns and silos,
the hills, rolling over
on command, their bellies
green and leafy,
the sun-tiger, riding
on your rooftop, its shadow racing
up and down the ditches,
a flock of birds,
carrying the sky by the corners,
a giant sheet of blue,
the road, always
twisting towards or away from you —
both, at the same time.

 I found myself wondering how many times I had packed up the car over the last two years — how many times I said goodbye, how many times I said “No, I’m not dragging that old thing with me” and instead donated it to Goodwill. This time, I found myself confronted with two packed cars.

Two cars heading into the unknown, two cars with a different part of the country waiting at the end of the road, two cars that surely forgot to pack that one thing we absolutely should’ve had the sense to remember. My partner and I were ready to say goodbye to the home we had known in Illinois for most of our lives. For me, the farewells were less impactful and tearful, my mother still held back her emotions, the other relatives did as well.

I would be lying if I believed that it was truly less impactful. Any goodbye is hard to grapple with — whether it is final or temporary. This goodbye, only four days ago, had a level of finality to it. We were leaving and, yes we would visit, but we would not be down the road or in the next room. The distance was going to last. Read the rest of this entry »