Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: resilience

May Nothing Evil Cross This Door: Part 2

Our reading this morning was the poem, The Finitudes, by Mark Nepo.

The first portion of this sermon was a retelling of the fable, The Friendly Forest, by Dr. Edwin Friedman, which can be found in his collection, Friedman’s Fables.

I wonder, how many of you were waiting for the tiger to eat the lamb. I know the first time I heard this fable of the friendly forest, I was waiting for the untimely demise of the lamb. It was almost certain. Instead, we are left wondering what the animals in the forest finally did and if the lamb survived – or any of them, for that matter.

But we are also left with questions about the ethics of this story. Like the story of God wearing a two-colored hat, we have to suspend our belief – the friendly forest is absurd. But it invites us to ask questions about the nature of evil, emotions, complicity, and nature itself.

We can reflect: Is the Tiger in the fable inherently evil or just doing what is in his nature? What if the lamb was eaten, who would be responsible? The tiger? The lambs’ friends who said to not worry? And we can broaden it to the greater questions of life and meaning. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sound of One Voice

Our reading from this Sunday was titled “You Reading This, Be Ready,” by the poet William Stafford. This sermon also drew heavily on “10 Ways to Build Resilience” from the American Psychological Association.

I remember my first evening as a chaplain – it feels like it was a very long time ago.  There is no way I could ever forget it.  When you study to become a Unitarian Universalist minister, you are required to serve as a chaplain in a hospital for a semester, a summer, or sometimes even a year.

It is often a mix of emotional boot camp with the normal duties of a chaplain – visiting patients, talking with families and doctors and nurses, being there in times of great joy, and more often than not, being there in moments of complete and utter sadness. Trauma, despair, confusion, death, and the breadth of human sadness with bits of bittersweet mixed in.  The particular hospital I was serving at was the very same hospital I as born in, a fact that somehow terrified me even more in the work that waited me as I began my first overnight shift on the floor with my supervisor. As we left the chaplain’s office she said, “Let’s go hang out in the emergency room.  It hasn’t been too busy today.”  Famous last words.  Before I knew it it was nearly five in the morning. Read the rest of this entry »