If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.
Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day's chalking.
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.
To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness - especially in the wilderness - you shall love him.
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.
The Shield was another of the Fear's names. According to Laughter, it means he shields the seed of Abraham the way a man starting a fire shields the flame. When Sarah was about to die childless, the Fear gave her a son. When Abraham was about to slaughter the son, the Fear gave him the ram. He is always shielding us like a guttering wick, Laughter said, because the fire he is trying to start with us is a fire that the whole world will live to warm its hands at. It is a fire in the dark that will light the whole world home.
If we are to believe he is really alive with all that that implies, then we have to believe without proof. And of course that is the only way it could be. If it could be somehow proved, then we would have no choice but to believe. We would lose our freedom not to believe. And in the very moment that we lost that freedom, we would cease to be human beings. Our love of God would have been forced upon us, and love that is forced is of course not love at all. Love must be freely given. Love must live in the freedom not to love; it must take risks. Love must be prepared to suffer even as Jesus on the Cross suffered, and part of that suffering is doubt.
Like Adam, we have all lost Paradise; and yet we carry Paradise around inside of us in the form of a longing for, almost a memory of, a blessedness that is no more, or the dream of a blessedness that may someday be again.
It is not objective proof of God's existence that we want but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God's presence.
Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all. Amen, and come Lord Jesus.
It hardly matters how the body of Jesus came to be missing because in the last analysis what convinced the people that he had risen from the dead was not the absence of his corpse but his living presence. And so it has been ever since.
And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?
Our father. We have killed him, and we will kill him again, and our world will kill him. And yet he is there. It is he who listens at the door. It is he who is coming. It is our father who is about to be born. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There is always the poet, the lunatic, the lover; there is always the religious man who is a queer mixture of the three.
It was the upward-reaching and fathomlessly hungering, heart-breaking love for the beauty of the world at its most beautiful, and, beyond that, for that beauty east of the sun and west of the moon which is past the reach of all but our most desperate desiring and is finally the beauty of Beauty itself, of Being itself and what lies at the heart of Being.
For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning - not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.
If you have never known the power of God's love, then maybe it is because you have never asked to know it - I mean really asked, expecting an answer.
Is it true, what Jesus believed, this Truth that he died for and lived for? Maybe the only way to know finally this side of falling off that precipice ourselves is to stop speaking and thinking and reading about it so much and to start watching and listening.
A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A miracle is when one plus one equals a thousand.
At least for a moment we all saw, I think, that the danger of pluralism is that it becomes factionalism, and that if factions grind their separate axes too vociferously, something mutual, precious, and human is in danger of being drowned out and lost.
Vocation” comes from the Latin vocare (to call) and means the work a man is called to by God.There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of society, say, or the superego, or self-interest.The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need to do and (b) that the world needs to have done. If you find your work rewarding, you have presumably met requirement (a), but if your work does not benefit others, the chances are you have missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work does benefit others, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you are unhappy with it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren’t helping your customers much either.Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet.
The contradiction is resolved when you realize that for Jesus peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle, but the presence of love. -p83
It is within the bonds of marriage that I, for one, found a greater freedom to be and to become and to share myself thatn I can imaine ever having found in any other kind of relationship.
More than the painting you see or the music you hear, the words you read become in the very act of reading them part of who you are, especially if they are the words of exceptionally promising writers. If there is poison in the words, you are poisoned; if there is nourishment, you are nourished; if there is beauty, you are made a little more beautiful. In Hebrew, the word dabar means both word and also deed. A word doesn’t merely say something, it does something. It brings something into being.
We are above all things loved--that is the good news of the gospel--and loved not just the way we turn up on Sundays in our best clothes and on our best behavior and with our best feet forward, but loved as we alone know ourselves to be, the weakest and shabbiest of what we are along with the strongest and gladdest. To come together as people who believe that just maybe this gospel is actually true should be to come together like people who have just won the Irish Sweepstakes. It should have us throwing our arms around each other like people who have just discovered that every single man and woman in those pews is not just another familiar or unfamiliar face but is our long-lost brother and our long-lost sister because despite the fact that we have all walked in different gardens and knelt at different graves, we have all, humanly speaking, come from the same place and are heading out into the same blessed mystery that awaits us all. This is the joy that is so apt to be missing, and missing not just from church but from our own lives--the joy of not just managing to believe at least part of the time that it is true that life is holy, but of actually running into that holiness head-on.
Unbelief is as much of a choice as belief is. What makes it in many ways more appealing is that whereas to believe in something requires some measure of understanding and effort, not to believe doesn't require much of anything at all.
Words written fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, can have as much of this power today as ever they had it then to come alive for us and in us and to make us more alive within ourselves. That, I suppose, is the final mystery as well as the final power of words: That not even across great distances of time and space do they ever lose their capacity for becoming incarnate. And when these words tell of virtue and nobility, when they move closer to that truth and gentleness of spirit by which we become fully human, the reading of them is sacramental; and a library is as holy a place as any temple is holy because through the words which are treasured in it the Word itself becomes flesh again and again and dwells among us and within us, full of grace and truth.Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember, in an essay called The Speaking and Writing of Words.
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.
What's prayer? It's shooting shafts into the dark. What mark they strike, if any, who's to say? It's reaching for a hand you cannot touch. The silence is so fathomless that prayers like plummets vanish into the sea. You beg. You whimper. You load God down with empty praise. You tell him sins that he already knows full well. You seek to change his changeless will. Yet Godric prays the way he breathes, for else his heart would wither in his breast. Prayer is the wind that fills his sail. Else drift with witless tides. And sometimes, by God's grace, a prayer is heard.
If we are a people who pray, darkness is apt to be a lot of what our prayers are about. If we are people who do not pray, it is apt to be darkness in one form or another that has stopped our mouths.
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.
Many an atheist is a believer without knowing it juast as many a believer is an atheist without knowing it. You can sincerely believe there is no God and live as though there is. You can sincerely believe there is a God and live as though there isn't.
I believe that whether we recognize him or not, or believe in him or not, or even know his name, again and again he comes and walks a little way with us along whatever road we're following. And I believe that through something that happens to us, or something we see, or somebody we know--who can ever guess how or when or where?--he offers us, the way he did at Emmaus, the bread of life, offers us new hope, a new vision of light that not even the dark world can overcome.