Frederick Buechner Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 131 quotes)
Believing in him is not the same as believing things about him such as that he was born of a virgin and raised Lazarus from the dead. Instead, it is a matter of giving our hearts to him, of come hell or high water putting our money on him, the way a child believes in a mother or a father, the way a mother or a father believes in a child.
He [Jesus] 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.
. . some moment happens in your life that you say yes right up to the roots of your hair, that makes it worth having been born just to have happen. laughing with somebody till the tears run down your cheeks. waking up to the first snow. being in bed with somebody you love... whether you thank god for such a moment or thank your lucky stars, it is a moment that is trying to open up your whole life. If you turn your back on such a moment and hurry along to business as usual, it may lose you the ball game. if you throw your arms around such a moment and hug it like crazy, it may save your soul.
Come unto me. Come unto me, you say. All right then, dear my Lord. I will try in my own absurd way. In my own absurd way I will try to come unto you, a project which is in itself by no means unabsurd. Because I do not know the time or place where you are. And if by some glad accident my feet should stumble on it, I do not know that I would know that I had stumbled on it. And even if I did know, I do not know for sure that I would find you there. ? And if you are there, I do not know that I would recognize you. And if I recognized you, I do not know what that would mean or even what I would like it to mean. I do not even well know who it is you summon, myself.For who am I? I know only that heel and toe, memory and metatarsal, I am everything that turns, all of a piece, unthinking, at the sound of my name. ? Come unto me, you say. I,? all of me, unknowing and finally unknowable even to myself, turn. O Lord and lover, I come if I can to you down through the litter of any day, through sleeping and waking and eating and saying goodbye and going away and coming back again. Laboring and laden with endless histories heavy on my back.
The worst isn't the last thing about the world. It's the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It's the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.
In honesty you have to admit to a wise man that prayer is not for the wise, not for the prudent, not for the sophisticated. Instead it is for those who recognize that in face of their deepest needs, all their wisdom is quite helpless. It is for those who are willing to persist in doing something that is both childish and crucial.
Maybe it's all utterly meaningless. Maybe it's all unutterably meaningful. If you want to know which, pay attention to what it means to be truly human in a world that half the time we're in love with and half the time scares the hell out of us. Any fiction that helps us pay attention to that is religious fiction. The unexpected sound of your name on somebody's lips. The good dream. The strange coincidence. The moment that brings tears to your eyes. The person who brings life to your life. Even the smallest events hold the greatest clues.
Much as we wish, not one of us can bring back yesterday or shape tomorrow. Only today is ours, and it will not be ours for long, and once it is gone it will never in all time be ours again. Thou only knowest what it holds in store for us, yet even we know something of what it will hold. The chance to speak the truth, to show mercy, to ease another’s burden. The chance to resist evil, to remember all the good times and good people of our past, to be brave, to be strong, to be glad.
If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.
Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality-not as we expect it to be but as it is-is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.
By and large a good rule for finding out is this: the kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work a) that you need most to do and b) the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you've presumably met requirement a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you've missed requirement b).
To journey for the sake of saving our own lives is little by little to cease to live in any sense that really matters, even to ourselves, because it is only by journeying for the world's sake - even when the world bores and sickens and scares you half to death - that little by little we start to come alive.
The things that the world fills time with are enough to turn the heart to stone, but the goodness of time itself is as untouched by them as the freshness of a spring morning is untouched by yelps from the scaffold. Time is good because the Holy One made it that way and then set the heavenly bodies wheeling through the sky so there would always be a way of marking its passage. Unfortunately, not even the most devout understand this for more than possibly a day or two out of the entire year when everything seems to be going their way. The rest of the year they go around like everybody else rolling their eyes and expecting terrible things to happen. When terrible things do happen, they fail to understand that for the most part they have brought them down on their own heads. They prefer to think that it is time itself that is terrible and that terrible things are only another method by which the Holy One afflicts them for their sins.
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.
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.
Like the rest of the devout, he was incapable of understanding that the Holy One's face is never turned away but constantly looks down on all creatures with a beneficence that they are too busy apologizing for their unworthiness and performing their good works and assuring Heaven of their unfailing devotion to notice.