I can’t believe I had made it this long in life without reading a Frederick Buechner book from cover to cover, especially because I’ve savored excerpts from his works for years. I’m so thankful Zondervan sent me his two latest releases to review – A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory and The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life,. His writing is authentic, thoughtful, provoking, and wise. I found myself underlining and going back to re-read passages. Some of his thoughts may not have been new to me, but his use of words caused me to stop, pause, and reflect.
In A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory, Buechner looks at the age-old question: when pain is real, why is God silent? Buechner has truly been a “steward” of his pain, a remarkable idea he brings forth in this book. Since the loss of his father at a young age, Buechner has learned hands-on what it means to steward painful things that happen during the course of our lives, rather than trying to forget painful events or feeling trapped by them. He writes that God does not sow the pain, he does not make the pain happen, but he looks to us to harvest treasure from the pain. If we bury the pain and don’t face it, our life shrinks. He writes that miracles can happen when we are willing to open the door into our pain, and share out of the depths of our lives. I couldn’t agree more. When I have been willing to be vulnerable with others, and share the truths I have learned from the depths of my deepest pain, people have come forward to say, “me, too.” That is the miracle – to know that you’re not alone.
In The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life, Buechner teaches invaluable lessons on the importance of examining your life. This book feels particularly poignant in this season of my life as a stay-at-home mom. My days feel long and sometimes predictable and mundane, and often ordinary. Buechner invites readers to look beneath the surface, to stop, to pay attention. There is sacredness to be discovered, even in the midst of the mundane and ordinary. What a perspective changer! I love how he helped me see my life through the lens of an artist, who frames and captures a moment in time on canvas. This is an important read for all to “become more sensitive, more aware, more alive to our own humanness, to the humanness of each other. Look with Rembrandt’s eye, listen with Bach’s ear, look with X-ray eyes that see beneath the surface to whatever lies beneath the surface.” This would also be a great read for a small group to read together in the New Year, to set the tone for a new way of living and experiencing life together. I highly recommend!