Frederick Buechner Quotes

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Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
I remember, for instance, the first time I went to the great palace of Versailles outside Paris and how, as I wandered around among all those gardens and fountains and statues, I had a sense that the place was alive with ghosts which I was just barely able to see, that somewhere just beneath the surface of all that was going on around me at that moment, the past was going on around me too with such reality and such poignance that I had to have somebody else to tell about it if only to reassure myself that I wasn't losing my mind. I wanted and sorely needed to name to another human being the sights that I was seeing and the thoughts and feelings they were giving rise to. I thought that in a way I could not even surely know what I was seeing physically until I could speak of it to someone else, could not come to terms with what I was feeling as either real or unreal until I could put it into words and speak those words and hear other words in response to mine. But there was nobody to speak to, as it happened, and I can still remember the frustration of it: the sense I had of something trying to be born in me that could not be born without the midwifery of expressing it; the sense, it might not be too much to say, of my self trying to be born, of a threshold I had to cross in order to move on into the next room of who I had it in me just then to become. 'in the beginning was the Word, ' John writes, and perhaps part of what that means is that until there is a word, there can be no beginning. Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember, in an essay called The Speaking and Writing of Words.

Frederick Buechner
From the essay on Love, in which he describes as a wilderness experience his daily visits with his wife to a hospital 3, 000 miles from home in a strange city, where someone he loves is in danger of dying. 'When the worst finally happens, or almost happens, a kind of peace comes. I had passed beyond grief, beyond terror, all but beyond hope, and it was thee, in that wilderness, that for the first time in my life I caught sight of something of what it must be like to love God truly. It was only a glimpse, but it was like stumbling on fresh water in the desert, like remembering something so huge and extraordinary that my memory had been unable to contain it. Though God was nowhere to be clearly seen, nowhere to be clearly heard, I had to be near him-even in the elevator riding up to her floor, even walking down the corridor to the one door among all those doors that had her name taped on it. I loved him because there was nothing else left. I loved him because he seemed to have made himself as helpless in his might as I was in my helplessness. I loved him not so much in spite of there being nothing in it for me but almost because there was nothing in it for me. For the first time in my life, there in that wilderness, I caught a glimpse of what it must be like to love God truly, for his own sake, to love him no matter what. If I loved him with less than all my heart, soul, and will, I loved him with at least as much of them as I had left for loving anything... I did not love God, God knows, because I was some sort of saint or hero. I did not love him because I suddenly saw the light (there was almost no light at all) or because I hoped by loving him to persuade him to heal the young woman I loved. I loved him because I couldn't help myself. I loved him because the one who commands us to love is the one who also empowers us to love, as there in the wilderness of that dark and terrible time I was, through no doing of my own, empowered to love him at least a little, at least enough to survive. And in the midst of it, these small things happened that were as big as heaven and earth because through them a hope beyond hopelessness happened. 'O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.'... The final secret, I think, is this: that the words 'You shall love the Lord your God' become in the end less a command than a promise.

Frederick Buechner