Several years ago a friend recommended Frederick Buechner's books to me. Sometimes these recommendations simmer in the back of my mind for a while, but I've come to believe that if the book is important for my life, it will surface again at exactly the right time.
Recently I was browsing in the biography section of the library and came across The Sacred Journey. (Browsing is a good way to allow serendipity to send good books your way.)
Buechner writes a beautiful account of his early life and soul's growth. His family moved often. He experienced the loss of his father at an early age. His mother moved the family to Bermuda, then North Carolina. He attended boarding school near Princeton, New Jersey, and later was briefly in the Army. He studies his memories like old photographs, and searches in them for the glimpses of a presence that slowly and gently made Itself known to him.
This book comes to me at a time when I've felt intensely the need to look through the accumulation of many years of a bewildering variety of experiences. The many different lives I've lived all happened to this one person who often forgets who she is and where she comes from. Is it possible to reflect back and somehow see the larger pattern, the big picture of my life? I need perspective in order to move intelligently into the next phase of my life.
For me, and for anyone, Buechner gives this advice:
"...Listen. Listen. Your life is happening. You are happening....A journey, years long, has brought each of you through thick and thin to this moment in time as mine has also brought me. Think back on that journey. Listen back to the sounds and sweet airs of your journey that give delight and to those too that give no delight at all and hurt like Hell. Be not afraid. The music of your life is subtle and elusive and like no other--not a song with words but a song without words, a singing, clattering music to gladden the heart or turn the heart to stone, to haunt you perhaps with echoes of a vaster, farther music of which it is part.
"The question is not whether the things that happen to you are chance things or God's things because, of course, they are both at once. There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak--even the walk from the house to the garage that you have walked ten thousand times before, even the moments when you cannot believe there is a God who speaks at all anywhere. He speaks, I believe, and the words he speaks are incarnate in the flesh and blood of our selves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys."
I want to listen more. I need the comfort of that voice.