Buchner: Writing and Prayer
“Because the word that God speaks to us is always an incarnate word—a word spelled out to us not alphabetically, in syllables, but enigmatically, in events, the chances are we will never get it just right. In that sense autobiography becomes a way of praying, and a book like this, if it matters at all, matters mostly as a call to prayer.” Frederick Buechner, www.frederickbuechner.com/quote-of-the-day/2017/2/15/call-to-prayer, -Originally published in Now and Then.
Reading Buechner is like putting on a new pair of glasses. I see God, the world, my work, relationships in a new light through Buechner’s eyes and words. I also have no doubt that if I have any knowledge of prayer, it is in the act of writing that I become the closest I ever come to praying. As my fingers touch the keyboard, thoughts I never knew existed enter the page and I am amazed by an almost constant flow of “aha” moments.
Macrina Wiederkehr writes in A Tree Full of Angels, Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary that it is the “spaces” between our words that give sense to all writing. It is my hope and prayer that as we connect to each other in this electronic age that it is the Spirit that fills in the blanks between our words with “sighs too deep for words.”
I hear a word, a phrase in conversation over lunch. As I try to stay in relationship, I experience joy or sadness at an event of the day. Later when I open my computer, images come out of that word or experience.
God’s language is difficult for us to understand because we are only partially divine and mostly human. This is sometimes a hard concept and may explain why we think we cannot hear or see God since God speaks a different language. For Christians, Jesus is God’s gift of language to us, and Jesus is constantly telling us to try to learn God’s language, a different language than what we hear in the world. “You have heard it said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5: 43-44)
We spend a lifetime trying to learn how to pronounce the words in God’s language. The phonetics are different. The sound is in the waves of the ocean. There may not be an alphabet.