Taking your children to school and kissing your wife goodbye. We had the sense—all of us, I think—that our time was running out, and that was why we tried to fill it as full as we did with whatever came to hand, why in the face of death it was a time with so much life in it. She could have done a lot worse. My husband actually picked the book up and read it straight through before I had a chance to get to it. As the first book he had written since his ordination, The Final Beast represented a new style for Buechner, one in which he combined his dual callings as minister and as author.
But it is a face so remarkably seen that it forces you to see it remarkably just as Cézanne makes you see a bowl of apples or Andrew Wyeth a muslin curtain blowing in at an open window. It is the sine qua non of art and religion both. June 1, 2010, at the. As an editor, I have tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. We are judged by the face that looks back at us from the bathroom mirror. I am never disappointed, finding something each time that brings new awareness of God's immanence. It means you are in touch with something profoundly important, profoundly human, profoundly holy.
As far as the decision for or against belief in God was concerned, most of the time he had little idea even what the issues were because no one had ever made the effort to discuss them with him. He and his young friend Prince Inga of Pingaree came into possession of three magic pearls—a blue one that conferred such strength that no power could resist it; a pink one that protected its owner from all dangers; and a pure white one that could speak words of great wisdom and helpfulness. Published in the years from 1972—1977, it brought Buechner to a much wider audience, and gained him very positive reviews , the first book in the series, was a finalist for the in 1971. Its clothes are patched with white and on its head a tall red hat all bent and faded pale from years of weather. That if we really had our eyes open, we would see that all moments are key moments. Jesus Christ refused the crown that Satan offered him in the wilderness, Buttrick said, but he is king nonetheless because again and again he is crowned in the heart of the people who believe in him. It is a collection of essays.
And yet: O purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. All of us involved in the book, certainly including Frederick Buechner with whose consent the changes were made, agreed at the outset that we ought not to clutter up the text with footnotes, ellipses, brackets, and the like. Will we be a friend or cold as ice today? To see a man weep is not a comely sight, especially this man whom we want to be stronger and braver than a man, and the impulse is to turn from him as we turn from anybody who weeps because the sight of real tears, painful and disfiguring, forces us to look to their source where we do not choose to look because where his tears come from, our tears also come from. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. She had far more the air of a college dean or a successful businesswoman than of a Mary Baker Eddy or Madam Blavatsky. Somebody from a long line of Congregationalists would no more consider crossing over to the Methodists than a Red Sox fan would consider rooting for the Mets.
Take any day and be alive in it. But I choose to believe that he speaks nonetheless, and the reason that his words are impossible to capture in human language is of course that they are ultimately always incarnate words. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. It is the first day because it has never been before and the last day because it will never be again. What about grace, when misappropriated and misunderstood, becoming an occasion for sin? You need to be bold in another way to speak the second half. Sometimes we avoid listening for fear of what we may hear, sometimes for fear that we may hear nothing at all but the empty rattle of our own feet on the pavement.
The Bible, as he presented it, is a book finally about ourselves, our own apostasies, our own battles and blessings; and it was the discovery of that more than of the differences between the Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomic, and Priestly sources of the Pentateuch that constituted the real reward of writing that apocalyptic paper. After his , Buechner returned to Union to complete the two further years necessary to receive a. The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days. He speaks in parables, and though we have approached these parables reverentially all these many years and have heard them expounded as grave and reverent vehicles of holy truth, I suspect that many if not all of them were originally not grave at all but were antic, comic, often more than just a little shocking. Nobody claims that it will be entirely painless, but no matter. Just some little pint-sized honesty, but honest still. So both at work and at play, life went on in many places other than the room where I wrote, in other words; there were memorable moments and 47 unmemorable moments, and as far as my sense of being trapped is concerned, it was the unmemorable ones, the apparently random and everyday ones, that turned out to be the key moments, the key that let me out of the trap at last.
There is the outward camaraderie and inward loneliness of the congregation. Doctors speak seriously about life after death, and not just the mystics anymore but the housewife, the stockbroker, the high-school senior speak about an inner world where reality becomes transparent to a reality realer still. The three of them dwelled in their house, I in my cell. While at Lawrenceville, he met the future winning poet ; their friendship and rivalry inspired the literary ambitions of both. At the heart of reality there is a heart beating life into all that lives and dies.
No, I must have told him. Bermuda left a lasting impression on Buechner. John Donne I read especially, and William Blake, and T. Start the orange juice, the bacon, the toast. The thoughts of our black hearts the third.
I open to the quotation for whatever day it happens to be and hope that it will turn out to be a good one to go to sleep on. But this much I will tell. They all knock me out of analysis and smack me clear into pleasure and awe. Not knowing is what makes today a holy mystery as every day is a holy mystery. If there is a writer with a more felicitous style now working in the English language, I do not know who it is.
In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. A Different Person, A Memoir, Knopf, 1993, p. If the Church is doing things like that, then it is being what Jesus told it to be. The world is always bewildered by its saints. Such as going to church. They are the ones who labor and are heavy-laden like everybody else but who, unlike everybody else, know that they labor and are heavy-laden. It took me places I never would have found my way to any other way.