Fred [Buechner] used Sunday mornings to step out of his writing life and into the streets of New York. And sometimes he stopped into Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, not so much because he liked going to church but rather because he had “nothing all that much better to do with my lonely Sundays.” He liked the sermons of the Rev. Dr. George Buttrick, the pastor there, particularly the fact that the listener could not easily guess what that preacher was going to come out with next. And then one Sunday, Buttrick preached a particular sermon that changed Fred’s life. It came as a surprise, the surprise for Fred. Later in his life, Fred describes it this way in The Sacred Journey:
“Jesus Christ refused the crown that Satan offered him in the wilderness, Buttrick said, but he is king nevertheless because again and again he is crowned in the heart of the people who believe in him. And that inward coronation takes place, Buttrick said, ‘among confession, and tears, and great laughter.’ It was the phrase great laughter that did it, did whatever it was that I believe must have been hiddenly in the doing all the years of my journey up till then. It was not so much that a door opened as that I suddenly found that a door had been open all along which I had only just then stumbled upon.”
As well-documented as Fred’s journey is because he has chosen to share it in hopes that it speaks to the doors opening in all our journeys, I do not tire of reading his account. Why is that? It is precisely because it is particular and yet it resonates, making his particularity a signpost toward my own life journeys, moments in my own life “from beyond time” when, as Fred puts it, “something too precious to tell has glinted in the dusk, always just out of reach, like fireflies.
From “Deep Calls Unto Deep: Reflections on the intersecting lives and writings of Fred Buechner, Tony Abbott, and Louis Patrick”