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The Sacred Journey

by Frederick Buechner

"A child takes life as it comes because he has no other way of taking it," Frederick Buechner writes in this first of his autobiographical books. With this statement he attempts to explore the event that is at the center of this book, and which forms the (missing) center around which so much of Buechner's fiction and essays take shape: the suicide of his father when he was 10 and his brother 8.

As with much of Buechner's work, there is a movement in this narrative from suffering to grace, a grace that comes in unexpected ways and places. Here it comes through the preacher George Buttrick on a Sunday sermon: Jesus refused Satan's crown, Buttrick said, but "he is crowned in the heart of the people who believe in him. And that inward coronation takes place ... 'among confession, and tears, and great laughter.'" It was when he heard this final statement, Buechner writes, that something turned over for him, and led him to speak to Buttrick and ultimately led him--driven literally by Buttrick--to Union Theological Seminary. Here in this beautiful book this soul-changing journey across Manhattan stands for "the sacred journey" of a life--and of all of our lives. Whether it ends in truth or dream we cannot know, but Buechner sides with King Rinkitink of Oz who says, "Never question the truth of what you fail to understand, for the world is filled with wonders." --Doug Thorpe