Silence, Love, Frederick Buechner.
Mr. Frederick Buechner is a recent discovery for me, though so beautiful and somehow familiar, has already found his way to the top of both my heart and my reading list. These are two of his most touching passages I’ve recently come upon.
The first is a passage I had the fortunate coincidence to read on an early morning commute through the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River Gorge to work as I listened to the magic of Sigur Ros. It was one of those moments where it seems Time had cleverly lined moments up to coincide, leaving me in almost bewildered sensual amazement, if I were to for the moment include that unnameable embrace of ones heart by a bit of poetic writing as a member of the senses. Read this passage noting that his full explanation of silence is one that would require considerably more quotation but in a short, inadequate nutshell, his idea of silence seems to me to have much to do with the remarkably personal and indescribable nature of the matter and the general tragedy of human existence.
Before the gospel is a word, it is a silence, a kind of presenting of life itself so that we see it not for what at various times we call it — meaninglessness or meaningful, absurd, beautiful — but for what it truly is in all its complexity, simplicity, mystery. The silence of Jesus in answer to Pilate’s question about truth seems such a presenting as does also in a way the silence of the television news with the sound turned off — the real news is what we see and feel, not what Walter Cronkite tells us — or the silence the Psalmist means when he says, “Be silent and know that I am God.” In each case it is a silence that demands to be heard because it is a presented silence, and [one] must somehow himself present this silence and mystery of truth by speaking what he feels, not what he ought to say, by speaking forth not only the light and hope of it but the darkness as well, all of it, because the Gospel has to do with all of these.
»» From Telling The Truth
This second is one as read to me by a certain beautiful soul from Atlanta. Not only does it sail the four seas of love in its vastness in four short lines, but it reveals just as quickly Buechner’s genius both in poetic brevity and in Christian thought.
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.
»» From The Magnificent Defeat
Pax, my friends, and thank you, universe, for giving us Mr. Buechner.