May 24, 2019

Monday with Buechner: Where Our Best Dreams Come From

Monday with Frederick Buechner
“Where Our Best Dreams Come From”

Somebody appears on your front stoop speaking your name, say, and you go down to open the door to see what’s up. Sometimes while it’s still raining, the sun comes out from behind the clouds, and suddenly, arching against the gray sky, there is a rainbow, which people stop doing whatever they’re doing to look at. They lay down their fishing nets, their tax forms, their bridge hands, their golf clubs, their newspapers to gaze at the sky because what is happening up there is so marvelous they can’t help themselves. Something like that, I think, is the way those twelve men Matthew names were called to become a church, plus Mary, Martha, Joanna, and all the other women and men who one way or another became part of it too. One way or another Christ called them. That’s how it happened. They saw the marvel of him arch across the grayness of things — the grayness of their own lives, perhaps, of life itself. They heard his voice calling their names. And they went.

They seem to have gone right on working at pretty much whatever they’d been working at before, which means that he didn’t so much call them out of their ordinary lives as he called them out of believing that ordinary life is ordinary. He called them to see that no matter how ordinary it may seem to us as we live it, life is extraordinary. “The Kingdom of God is at hand” is the way he put it to them, and the way he told them to put it to others. Life even at its most monotonous and backbreaking and heart-numbing has the Kingdom buried in it the way a field has treasures buried in it, he said. The Kingdom of God is as close to us as some precious keepsake we’ve been looking for for years, which is lying just in the next room under the rug all but crying out to us to come find it. 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 be 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.

• from Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons
by Frederick Buechner

Comments

  1. anonymous says

    “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 be born both within ourselves and within the world”

    this is so true, it hurts

    https://www.lifewithdogs.tv/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/12.12.13-Dog-Befriends-Down-Syndrome-Boy2-590×388.jpg

    • Fabulous! The tender touch of life from daybreak till days end. It’s everywhere.

  2. Phil Dickens says

    To me this is the essence of the gospel, the good news that Jesus brought.

    • Rick Ro. says

      +1.

      And isn’t our desire – better yet, GOD’S desire – that all sense this same essence, this Good News…?

  3. With all my heart is wish this were true, but in the world of my experience what most people desire, and what I myself desire 98.17% of the time is a placid, undisturbed life of sufficient food of a wide and tasty variety, good health, comfortable and fashionable clothing, titillating and emotionally manipulative entertainment, and a sense of importance broadcast to me from the other people with whom I come into contact.

    We won’t delve into what I want sexually.

    I also believe that this far from unique to our goatish age. although there does appear to be kind of a conspiracy afoot to resist any impulse to move very far from this Ground Zero of the appetites. Sotimes I fear that collectively, humanity is just starting the first halting steps toward the Kingdom of God.

    Yeah, maybe the Kingdom of God satisfies our deepest desires, but deep down, I’m shallow.

    • Oh yes, and if this comes at the expense of someone else, I’m usually OK with that if I can be sheltered from the knowledge of that.

    • So you’re shallow and self obsessed. That’s not news. That’s a description of all of us. That’s the starting point. Now what? Do we go anywhere from there? The wound to our souls is deep and gripping but love is stronger. The point is to aspire. To reach out to love. You seem today to be saying that that’s pie in the sky and that the pervasive mediocrity of spirit that you see in yourself and all around you should rather be the acceptable, or at least accepted and resigned to, state. Admitting how awful we are is certainly necessary but beyond that I’m not sure what the point is.

      • It cheers me up to see that, in principle at least, you object to moving the goalposts.

        • Im not sure if that’s an estimation of the moderate solidity of my principles or an insinuation about the flimsiness of my practices but I’m taking it as a little of both. Happy to cheer you up. Don’t go changin’ there Muley.

    • Rick Ro. says

      –> “Yeah, maybe the Kingdom of God satisfies our deepest desires, but deep down, I’m shallow.”

      Your post suggests that’s not the case. Hypocritical maybe, but not shallow.

    • Christiane says

      Hello Burro,

      “what I myself desire 98.17% of the time is a placid, undisturbed life of sufficient food of a wide and tasty variety, good health, comfortable and fashionable clothing, titillating and emotionally manipulative entertainment, and a sense of importance broadcast to me from the other people with whom I come into contact”

      ah, ‘the universal cage’ of our own design, the nest of ‘cozy’ we build to shield us from the pain of the world
      . . . . . but then the earthquakes come to open that cage
      . . . . and after the earthquakes, ‘the still small voice’

      we may insulate ourselves in vain . . . . . but still we try with the gilded cage, the feathered nest, the excess of pride

      but in the end, it would be a great kindness to warn us of what is coming and when and how, if only we bear to know ahead of time, but maybe that’s it: we couldn’t bear to know, so we were made so we could not see that far ahead

      ” “Go warn the children of God of the terrible speed of mercy.”
      (Flannery O’Connor)

  4. It’s hard to go wrong with Buechner. He is one of the few authors whose books I never throw away when we purge and clean.

    And one of his major themes is God and the Kingdom not just intersecting with, but residing in and being found in, the most ordinary of lives and circumstances. That is good news indeed, because (in spite of what the evangelical circus says) if we are required to do or be something extraordinary to apprehend God and discover faith, then we are all lost.