Buechner: Telling Secrets 3
“It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier that way to see where we have been in our lives and where we are going. It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about.” Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets
In Telling Secrets, Buechner comes to believe that he can be happy even if those around him are not and that we all have a sacred commission to be happy. This happiness presents itself when we begin to surrender our life and that of those we love to God and stop trying to manage ourselves and them. He writes how the church has much to learn about surrender and trust from Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), those meetings in church basements where people learn to tell the truth, lending each other a hand when they are failing, which is perhaps “the only work that matters in the end.”
Buechner has so much to teach those of us who want to be spiritual friends. He in essence in his writings has become the spiritual director of so many others in our times. One of his great contributions is his insistence on our learning to tell the truth and stop keeping secrets. One of the AA principles that “we are as sick as our secrets” is constantly a premise of Buechner’s as well. As he speaks to those of us who are trying to be spiritual friends to others, he asks us to look for times when we like Peter in the courtyard are unconsciously telling the truth.
Spiritual guides and friends are to provide a “safe place” for secret telling, secrets which block us and others from knowing that connection to God. Buechner’s promise is Jesus’ promise as well. When these barriers disappear, we will be able figuratively to reach out and “touch the hem of his garment.”