We the readers are astonished by these words no less than the boy Fred Buechner was astonished by the revelation of his brother’s feelings. How so like Tony Abbott’s taking his “tears and putting them in his pocket with his used handkerchief.” How like Lou Patrick’s inability to speak much at all of his deepest grief, the loss of his son. Fred Buechner said in Telling Secrets, “Don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel is supposed to be the unwritten law of families that for one reason or another have gone out of whack.” It is Fred’s ability to use everyday language while talking about the hardest parts of life that share space with the most holy that resonates with readers. “Out of whack” hits our humanness. The words strike us as real. All humans deal with the shadow side of life, the darknesses that come to us all. No one escapes. But the wonder of it is that these three writers are willing as writers to look at the darkness, to recognize it in the writing of others, to write about it themselves, telling us all the while what they found in that profound darkness that lifted them up and could or would vicariously lift us as well. And what did they find? They found glimpses along the way of the love they sought, and they eventually found the calling of a loving God who was with them in the deep so that they, like the poet of Psalm 42, would not be afraid. Years later, when Fred read Shakespeare’s The Tempest, he wrote that Caliban’s speech about the island had haunted him all his life because it mirrors his remembrances of Bermuda. The lines start with “Be not affeard, the Isle is full of noyses,/ Sounds, and sweet aries, that give delight and hurt not.” One cannot help comparing this line of comfort to the more than 350 times the Scriptures say, “Fear not.” Signs like this, looked back on, of course, have directed Fred Buechner’s journey. He believes this.
From “Deep Calls Unto Deep: Reflections on the intersecting lives and writings of Fred Buechner, Tony Abbott, and Louis Patrick”