I’ve become a curious thing, a fan of Frederick Buechner without having read many of his books. I’ve seen his quotes posted online or read other authors as they referred to him. It’s only been in the past year that I’ve jumped into reading his books myself and enjoying this invitation he offers to quiet contemplation and thoughtful consideration of life and faith and believing God even when we’re in pain. Zondervan’s newest releases of Buechner’s spiritual memoirs, The Remarkable Ordinary and Crazy, Holy Grace, are part of that discovery for me.
Each of these books collects essays and lectures Buechner gave in the past, some of them never-before published and other just shared anew. In each of these books, Buechner shares a little about his life and how He saw God at work in it, even in his father’s suicide when Frederick was a boy, even in family tensions and the hushing up of the past, even with his daughter’s anorexia, his brother’s death, and his own depression. In all of these things, he reminds us to listen for God. He says, “We cannot live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned to pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music. 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…..but He says he is with us on our journeys. He says he has been with us since each of our journeys began. Listen for him. Listen to the sweet and bitter airs of your present and your past for the sound of him” ( A Crazy, Holy Grace).
The Remarkable Ordinary is my favorite Buechner book so far, particularly his writings on story and Christ’s parables and how we can learn so much about God by slowing down and listening and looking in the most ordinary parts of our most ordinary days. He says, “joy is knowing that this is true from your stomach. Knowing that even though you see only through a glass darkly, even though lots of things happen—wars and peacemaking, hunger and homelessness—joy is knowing, even for a moment, that underneath everything are the everlasting arms.”
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