“Listen to your life.
All moments are key moments…
Because the word that God speaks to us is always an incarnate word — a word spelled out to us not alphabetically, in syllables, but enigmatically, in events, even in the books we read and the movies we see – the chances are we will never get it just right…”
– Now and Then, F. Buechner
Finishing a good book is like saying farewell to a good friend. You linger around the last few pages, not quite wanting to say goodbye. You think about the things you’ve learned because of your time together. You question if there was anything left unsaid that you should say now. You wonder how things will have changed the next time you meet.
Slowly, slowly but surely, you come to the end. You question whether something more should be done to mark this moment… Something to acknowledge a turning point… something. But the moment passes quickly, quietly. Books are humble friends; they have the power to change your life, and after all this, they do not protest if you take leave of them; retire them to your shelf until a later time when they are needed again.
Tonight, I finished F. Buechner’s ‘Now and Then.’
Before this, I’ve come across his quotes every now and then, but it wasn’t the same as reading his thoughts all together at length.
The way he writes is different than other Christian writers; in his writing, you feel his uncertainty… his roundabout way of arriving at what is true.
He acknowledges of the presence of good and bad days in the life a Christian.
He tells of his vast influences, and questions of how life may have been had different choices been made, and tells of how he lives with the choices that he made…
And it is in this — the chances given and choices made — his uncertainty and vulnerability, that makes his journey more human and palpable. That in all our imperfection, the faithfulness of God and of Jesus’ grace is more clearly seen.
“In the end justice is almost always done in literary matters, I believe, and if they are worth enduring, they will endure…
That life is grace, for instance — the givenness of it, the fathomlessness of it, the endless possibilities of its becoming transparent to something extraordinary beyond itself…
We are so used to hearing what we want to hear and remaining deaf to what it would be well for us to hear that it is hard to break the habit.
But if we keep our hearts and minds open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize, beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we might hear him, he is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, his word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling.
In that sense autobiography becomes a way of praying, and a book like this, if it matters at all, matters mostly as a call to prayer.”