Author and theologian Frederick Buechner died on August 15, 2022, at age 96. His books have been beloved companions, for me as well as for so many colleagues in ministry. Buechner’s ability to see life, all of life, through the lens of faith lifted our spirits and strengthened – even saved – many a sermon!
His way with words…it was both gift and craft. In gratitude for Buechner’s voice and memory, I share his reflection on Life from Wishful Thinking:
The temptation is always to reduce it to size. A bowl of cherries. A rat race. Amino acids. Even to call it a mystery smacks of reductionism. It is the mystery.
As far as anybody seems to know, the vast majority of things in the universe do not have whatever life is. Sticks, stones, stars, space – they simply are. A few things are and are somehow aware of it. They have broken through into Something, or Something has broken through into them. Even a jellyfish, a butternut squash. They’re in it with us. We’re all in it together, or it in us. Life is it. Life is with.
After lecturing learnedly on miracles, a great theologian was asked to give a specific example of one. “There is only one miracle,” he answered. “It is life.”
Have you wept at anything during the past year?
Has your heart beat faster at the sight of young beauty?
Have you thought seriously about the fact that someday you are going to die?
More often than not do you really listen when people are speaking to you instead of just waiting for your turn to speak?
Is there anybody you know in whose place, if one of you had to suffer great pain, you would volunteer yourself?
If your answer to all or most of these questions is No, the chances are that you’re dead.
Life with Frederick Buechner was deep and abundant. His imagination and insight and his humor enriched our study of the Bible’s people – who are in reality ourselves – their God, and our knowledge of one another.
Today we give thanks to God for the life of Frederick Buechner.
Do you have a favorite Frederick Buechner quote?
-Written by Rev. Ann Palmerton
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