Dr. Peter Browning
Chow & Chapel: The Thankful Life

Drury does this weekly service called Chow & Chapel (the chow part is pizza, and the chapel part is a 30 minute inspirational service in the Diversity Center–historic Washington Avenue Baptist Church).
Something about the venue (wood pews, stained glass, history) and the purpose (spiritual break in a workday, community, inspiration) makes for a nice way to spend your Tuesday lunch hour.

This week was the first time I’d made it to one all semester, and I snuck down hoping for a little bit of warmfuzziness before Thanksgiving. And boy did i get it! Dr. Browning (chaplain, favorite professor, and now colleague of mine) presented a talk on thankfulness.

He started out with a story from his Sunday church service. During the kids sermon (a phenomenon of some protestant churches that my AG background did not include. Kids had separate church in my world. Puppets. This one is a small part of the regular service.) adults in the congregation helped little kids write out what they are grateful for: “thankful for my mommy. my doggie. my kitty.” (Oh man! that’s cute.)

He said that watching the older church members taking the hands of the little guys, and walking them to the front to share their lists made you think:

Life’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

He also recalled childhood road trips, and the fun of Thanksgiving spent with family. He looks back now and contrasts the magic, comfort, and happiness of childhood memories with the knowledge that
his mother was ill,
grandfather had lost his job.
All that real-life stuff was going on, but the parents worked to create JOY, contentment, stability.

Then he read from Psalms, “psalms are all about human emotion. let ‘er rip.”
Psalm 136 is all about praise (“his love endures forever”), but then in 137 we’re by the waters of Babylon. And we’re away from home. And we’re lamenting.

And that’s life. And that’s Thanksgiving: finding a way to be grateful in the midst of whatever else is going on.

Here’s something I’d never thought about before. That first Thanksgiving: the pilgrims were homeless. They were in a dire situation, (something like half of the settlers died that winter) and in a strange land. But they were still able to recognize their ability (and need) to give thanks.

It’s okay to be grateful in the midst of a tough situation, and it’s also okay (and healthy) to be real about your life in the midst of Thanksgiving.

Perhaps the biggest Chow & Chapel revelation of all: I am now one of the adults who makes sure the holidays are meaningful and joyful for the small children at my Thanksgiving.
Jacob 5, Hannah 3, Ean 2 months, Clayton 1 month.
(and Jenksie Cat. she’s 2. I do my best to make her feel special every day.)

PS: I’m not going to “go there” in labeling the Bible fiction/nonfiction for the blog category. We’ll go with “classics”…


2 thoughts on “thankful

  1. I can hear Dr. Browning say these words with a slight smile on his face. I feel the need to print them out and hang them at my desk: “Life’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.”

    Just what I needed today!

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