Northwest House

Posted by: Richenda at Tuesday March 10, 2009 in

What a weekend! One thing for sure is I wish I had taken better notes, a lot better. And I wish I was better at remembering people’s names. I also wish I was both smarter and wiser…

I guess that’s life, though. I mean, I’m a pretty good dancer and God doesn’t let you be good at everything, that just wouldn’t be right. God mixes those gifts up, you know, a little of this, a pinch of that. Sometimes I think even God doesn’t know exactly how it’ll end up. It’s a little fun built into the creation, for human beings are complex enough to always be surprising.

But….back to wishing about those notes I didn’t take.

Northwest House of Theological Studies is a ecumenical protestant seminary in Salem, Oregon. It’s still new enough to wonder where it’s funding is coming from, and just old enough for a little nascent self-awareness. Like a daffodil in winter sunlight poking a yellow bud into the afternoon. What exactly is that bloom going to be?

One thing for sure, it got me thinking. And thinking. And thinking. And back to wishing about those notes I didn’t take. Like, I wish I’d taken down the name of the Pastor who conducted the service Saturday morning. In a word, he rocked. A wonderful, centered, humble, spiritual, joyful man of God. It is really possible to put all those things together? Can I ever hope to gain a little of that confidence in my work and in my life?

Service was conducted in the Cone Chapel at Willamette University. The chapel is beautiful, I wish I had taken a photograph from inside. The building seems imposing:

But the chapel itself is cozier than the outer walls imply. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it: it’s lovely. And I was even lucky enough to get one of Northwest’s students to pose outside the door.

I had the opportunity not just to join in the Saturday service, but to sit in on a New Testament class. Again, where are my notes! I can picture the professor, I remember he speaks Spanish and German and Greek, yet I can’t remember his name! But because of him I placed an order at abebooks today, two pseudepigraphas coming right up. Enoch coming down the pike. Hide Yourself!

Whew! Thank goodness for abebooks—or else I’d be broke!

So much to do and so little time to do it. So much to think—to think—to think—to think about. So much to spill into prayer and then madly try to mop back up again. I am in the valley of dry bones. Do I dare let God loose the river in the graveyard, here? And if I do, what will wash in? What will wash away?

“And the earth shall be cleansed from all pollution, and from all sin, and from all plague, and from all suffering…and peace and truth shall become partners together in all the days of the world…” from I Enoch, Charlesworth, Ed. 1983.

Sounds great, doesn’t it. But what will it cost? When the bones are made flesh and the flesh speaks, what will it say? And can I bear to hear it?

Rattle rattle rattle them bones!

The school is in the heart of Salem—the heart of Oregon. It is right across the street from the state capitol, taking a bit of space within the grounds of the magnificent Salem Methodist church and Willamette University.

I took pictures, of course. I’m a plague with my cellphone camera. Salem has a number of wonderful old churches, but I ended up with pictures of just two.

This Evangelical church on 17th Street is now a residence (and for sale, if anyone’s interested). Frontier churches have long been remodeled into homes….but usually it’s because the old church burnt down, or flooded. And the architecture usually changes just a little. But this little church-turned-house, with its wavering ghost-light, really catches the imagination:

Then there’s the First United Methodist Church of Salem, which is a national historic landmark. The building is magnificent, with a steeple NASA could envy. I took a number of pictures, but these two were best:

I also took a picture of the little coffee shop that saved my life. Whew! I arrived early and needed to recoup a little from the stress of negotiating all those one-way Salem streets. Cravings Coffeehouse served up perfectly, and their blueberry scones are better than sugar cookies to soothe the weary, one-way traveler.

Quite the weekend. Quite the place. And thank you Dorothy!—my guide.

the Spirit is Life! I just can’t imagine a better place to learn and grow in faith.

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