Words of Grace: 10 Favorite Quotes from Frederick Buechner

I love words.

If you’ve been hanging around this blog for a while, you might know that I especially love Frederick Buechner’s words. Not only do I love the way that he paints beautiful pictures that burrow deep into my soul, that catch my breath, that bring me to tears. I love how Buechner illuminates an honest, searching, beautiful faith. His words make my own searching faith feel just a bit less lonely. I find myself hopeful and somehow more alive when I read Buechner’s words. They are a gift for which I am thankful.

So in honor of Buechner’s 90th birthday today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite quotes of his. I hope you enjoy!


“Don’t start looking in the Bible for the answers it gives. Start by listening for the questions it asks. . . ” Listening to Your Life


“I believe he says it to all of us:  to feed his sheep, his lambs, to be sure, but first to let him feed us–to let him feed us with something of himself.  In the sip of wine and crumb of bread.  In the dance of sun and water and sky.  In the faces of the people who need us most and of the people we most need.  In the smell of breakfast cooking on a charcoal fire.  Who knows where we will find him or whether we will recognize him if we do?  Who knows anything even approaching the truth of who he really was?  But my prayer is that we will all of us find him somewhere, somehow, and that he will give us something of his life to fill our emptiness, something of his light to drive back our dark.”  The Longing for Home


“Beyond all we can find to say about [Jesus] and believe about him, he remains always beyond our grasp, except maybe once in a while the hem of his garment. We should never forget that.  We can love him, we can learn from him, but we can come to know him only by following him–by searching for him in his church, in his Gospels, in each other.” Listening to Your Life


“And just this is the substance of what I want to talk about: the clack-clack of my life. The occasional, obscure glimmering through of grace. The muffled presence of the holy. The images, always broken, partial, ambiguous, of Christ. If a vision of Christ, then a vision such as those two stragglers had at Emmaus at suppertime: just the cracking of crust as the loaf came apart in his hands ragged and white before in those most poignant words of all scripture, ‘He vanished from their sight’–whoever he was, whoever they were. Whoever we are.” The Alphabet of Grace


“Not the least of my problems is that I can hardly even imagine what kind of an experience a genuine, self-authenticating religious experience would be. Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.” The Alphabet of Grace


“The alphabet of grace is full of sibilants–sounds that can’t be shouted but only whispered: the sounds of bumblebees and wind and lovers in the dark, of white-caps hissing up flat over the glittering sand and cars on wet roads, of crowds hushed in vast and vaulted places, the sound of your own breathing. I believe that in sibilants life is trying to tell us something.” The Alphabet of Grace


“Our happiness is all mixed up with each other’s happiness and our peace with each other’s peace. Our own happiness, our own peace, can never be complete until we find some way of sharing it with people who the way things are now have no happiness and know no peace. Jesus calls us to show this truth forth. Be the light of the world, he says. Where there are dark places, be the light especially there. Be the salt of the earth. Bring out the true flavor of what it is to be alive truly. Be truly alive. Be life-givers to others. That is what Jesus tells the disciples to be. That is what Jesus tells his Church, tells us, to be and do.”Listening to Your Life


“Thus, when you wake up in the morning, called by God to be a self again, if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.” The Alphabet of Grace


“But I don’t want to dream this day out. I want to live this day out. I want to live this day out as though it were the first day of my life because that is of course what it is.” The Alphabet of Grace


“And what is it like: to be alive in this maybe one place of all places anywhere where life is? Live a day of it and see. Take any day and be alive in it. Nobody claims that it will be painless, but no matter. It is your birthday, and there are many presents to open.” The Alphabet of Grace

Do you have any favorite Buechner quotes or books? Please share! I’m looking forward to adding to my collection.

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