Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: transcendentalism

With All Earnestness

I’m convinced being a Unitarian Universalist requires us to reconcile ourselves, as much as possible, to mortality – to the inevitability of death. For so many of our stories as a tradition begin with death or lead to it – they visit upon us in quiet reflective moments, come rushing to us in the martyr’s flames, or steer us to claiming fully our lives while we still have them.

It is true, death is a constant companion for most of the world’s religions – perhaps the companion that originated the impulse to be religious, but so much so for us – a religion whose focus is squarely on the here and now – anything beyond we leave to you to discern.

It is a challenge, in the modern world but especially as Americans, to even talk about so universal a condition – that of living and dying. But, still, we will venture there.

Our story begins, however, with life – stories tend to require the living to bring the alive. And we find ourselves in what should be a familiar place for Unitarian Universalists – New England – Boston – the mothership of our tradition. Read the rest of this entry »

Renewal of the Spirit

The reading for this Sunday was the poem, “Pied Beauty,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately” – and so begins of the great American stories.  The story of a naturalist, a freethinker, a rugged individualist, and a man that did what he thought best for his own life and experience –

The story of Henry David Thoreau moving to Walden pond to live off the land, away from society, and to draw upon his own experience and the lessons of the natural world.  To suck the marrow out of life.

Henry David Thoreau is a name we hear often in Unitarian Universalist congregations.  It’s a name we proudly speak of.  It’s a name that most Americans are familiar with, having been forced to read Walden in high school or having some passing knowledge of the Transcendentalists and, in the very least, their individualistic spirituality.

Thoreau has a rather grand mythos attached to him.  He is seen as an intentional hermit, someone that had to escape the rush of society, someone that did what he wanted when he wanted to, and a great spiritual thinker that transformed American society and, by extension, informed Unitarian Universalism. Read the rest of this entry »