Buechner's death made the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN, which is unprecedented for a Presbyterian pastor. Who? Frederick Buechner. Buechner died August 15th, 2022. His writing changed my faith and my life. In high school my youth director was writing about Buechner for his PhD dissertation in literature. I owned every book Buechner had written—and I still quote him often. Here are some of my favorites:
“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you.”
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid."
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”
“Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.”
“Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back--in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”
“If you want to be holy, be kind.”
”If you don't have doubts you're either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.“
“The love for equals is a human thing--of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing--the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing--to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy--love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured's love for the torturer. This is God's love. It conquers the world.”
“We must be careful with our lives, for Christ's sake, because it would seem that they are the only lives we are going to have in this puzzling and perilous world, and so they are very precious and what we do with them matters enormously.”
“The world says, the more you take, the more you have. Christ says, the more you give, the more you are.”
“One life on this earth is all that we get. Whether it is enough or not enough. And the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can.”
May these words be a blessing to you, as they have been to me. I feel a Buechner sermon brewing.
Love to all,