Today, I present a double-header set of reviews: two inspiring books by Frederick Buechner. Both are quick reads, but pack quite a punch. First up, A Crazy, Holy Grace.
From the Book:
When pain is real, why is God silent?
Frederick Buechner has grappled with the nature of pain, grief, and grace ever since his father committed suicide when Buechner was a young boy. In this essential collection of essays, including one never before published, Frederick Buechner finds that the God who might seem so silent is ever near. He writes about what it means to be a steward of our pain and about this grace from God that seems arbitrary and yet draws us to his care. And he tells about the magic of memory and how it can heal old wounds with memories of past goodness and graces from God.
Buechner’s best writings on pain and loss, covering such topics as the power of secrets, loss of a loved one, letting go, and resurrection from the ruins, reveal that pain and sorrow can be a treasure—an amazing grace.
Buechner says that loss will come to all of us, but he writes that we are not alone. Crazy and unreal as it may sometimes seem, God’s holy, healing grace is always present and available if we are quiet enough to receive it.
A Crazy, Holy Grace is a book I normally probably would not have picked up. I’m a fiction reader—that’s where I find my book joy. I mean, it’s a collection of essays. I used to be an English teacher. I’ve read more than my share of essays, and I have a serious dislike of them! Yet, I was inexplicably drawn to this book. And I must admit, it touched my heart.
The section where Buechner talks about being a steward of your pain–of sharing your pain with others, in order to help them get through their pain–struck me, how we should not talk about our pain, but talk out of it. What a simple, but profound idea—an idea that can completely change our relationships. An idea I intend to put into practice.
And there is so much more in this small volume! Definitely worth the read.
And now, The Remarkable Ordinary…
From the Book:
You may not be able to see it—your life may seem boringly predictable and your work insignificant, until you look at your life as Frederick Buechner does.
Based on a series of mostly unpublished lectures, Frederick Buechner reveals how to stop, look, and listen to your life. He reflects on how both art and faith teach us to pay attention to the remarkableness right in front of us, to watch for the greatness in the ordinary, to use our imaginations to see the greatness in others, and to love them truly and well.
As you learn to listen to your life and what God is doing in it, you will uncover the plot of your life’s story and the sacred opportunity to connect with the divine in each moment.
Pay attention, says Buechner. Listen to the call of a bird or the rush of the wind, to the people who flow in and out of your life. The ordinary points to the extraordinary God who created and loves all of creation, including you. Pay attention to these things as if your life depends upon it. Because, of course, it does.
This book really hit me in the feels. I have flagged so many passages, the book won’t even stay closed anymore. His work is infinitely quotable. Buechner’s writing is easy-to-read, yet so profound and poignant that you can’t help but tear up at the beauty and the simplicity of what he is so eloquently writing about.
Buechner really does make you think about the little, seemingly insignificant (or the huge, ground-shaking) moments of your life and how life-altering or life-affirming each can be. But most importantly, how each moment can draw you closer to God, if you will only open your eyes to His leading. Beautiful!
Both The Remarkable Ordinary and A Crazy, Holy Grace speak of some of the most pivotal moments in Buechner’s life. But each book looks at them through different lenses, showing how those moments can affect us in more than one way, depending on where we are in our own lives and in our own walks with God.
A good book to me is one that can change you, change the way you see the world around you. And that is exactly what these books by Frederick Buechner have done. I’d highly recommend you read them both, with a box of tissues and a highlighter or some page flags in hand. 🙂 I can’t wait to share my copies with friends!
Many thanks to Handlebar Media for the copies of these books for review purposes. I was not required to give positive reviews. All opinions are my very own! 🙂