Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days” as Want to Read:
The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  1,298 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
This memoir reflects on key moments of the author's early life, from childhood to his entering seminary, that reveal how God speaks to us in a variety of ways every moment of every day.
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 11th 1991 by HarperOne (first published 1982)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sacred Journey, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Sacred Journey

Traveling Mercies by Anne LamottThe Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas MertonConfessions by Augustine of HippoSurprised by Joy by C.S. LewisA Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
The Best Spiritual Autobiographies
74th out of 88 books — 112 voters
The 231 Club by J. BartellMartin Heidegger by Rüdiger SafranskiConfessions by Jean-Jacques RousseauFree Fall by Amber Lea EastonConfessions by Augustine of Hippo
Must Read Memoirs
255th out of 382 books — 313 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,799)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 30, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing
This was insightful, uncommonly honest, and beautiful. I couldn't put the book down, but had to, twice, before finishing the mere 112 pages (3 chapters called "Once Below a Time, Once Upon a Time, and Beyond Time").
I will not share any of the story, so as not to ruin any of it for future readers; however, if you long to journey well, you will be encouraged by this autobiographical work which has at its core, an interest in helping others to know faith, hope and love in this lost world.
I can't sa
Rebekah Choat
Mar 30, 2012 Rebekah Choat rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
In the introduction to this memoir, Buechner says that he has determined “to try to describe my own life…in the hope that such glimmers of theological truth as I believed I had glimpsed in it would shine through…” because “if God speaks to us at all in this world…it is into our personal lives that he speaks.”

Rather than attempting to reconstruct a perfectly linear narrative of his early life, the author shares word-snapshots, pictures of particular people and places and days, some of which were
Eric Wright
Buechner looks back on his first 25 or so years and muses on the various happenings that shaped his journey to Christ. The journey is ill-defined, erratic, filled with ups and downs, big and small events, as is that of most of us. He is very candid about his failures and his fears, his family and confused aspirations. As such the book it probably reflects much more about how those who become believers without a dated crisis become true followers of Christ.

The problem with Buechner, in more very
Mar 17, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Beautiful memoir of Buechner's early days. Tragedy and happiness are examined and treated lovingly as the gift they were. His lyrical descriptions evoke vivid imagery and sharp emotions.

"...and it is for all unknown ones (blessings) and the more than half-forgotten ones that we do well to look back over the journeys of our lives because it is their presence that makes the life of each of us a sacred journey."

"What quickens my pulse now is the stretch ahead rather than the one behind, and it is m
Matthew Ritter
Dec 11, 2013 Matthew Ritter rated it really liked it
Buechner assumes that, "the story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all." For that reason, he writes a memoir that doesn't fall into the genre's trap of overindulgence or braggadocio. Doing as he implores us to do, he looks back on his life to find the blessings he missed or half forgot. Buechner relays not only milestone highlights but also mundane lowlights and trifling no-lights that prove to be as significant in shaping him.

He dwells longest on episodes that provoke him to
May 21, 2011 Melanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
The Sacred Journey is memoir, poetry and philosophy in one slim novel and I loved it! Buechner’s book is messy- somewhat disjointed feeling, and yet beautiful and touching. The seeming unorganized stories come together much like real life does… where big moments hardly matter and the small, seemingly unimportant, conversations can change everything. Buechner tries, and I think succeeds, in using his own life (filled with very real pain- like his Father’s suicide) to show the humanity and great j ...more
Megan S Spark
Jan 25, 2016 Megan S Spark rated it it was amazing
"On All Saints' Day, it is not just the saints of the church that we should remember in our prayers, but all the foolish ones and wise ones, the shy ones and overbearing ones, the broken ones and whole ones, the despots and tosspots and crackpots of our lives who, one way or another, have been our particular fathers and mothers and saints, and whom we loved without knowing we loved them and by whom we were helped to whatever little we may have, or ever hope to have, of some kind of seedy saintho ...more
Dec 13, 2014 Jeanette rated it liked it
Love the concepts and principles of his journey, and clearer direction perceived. But I am not a fan of the artsy, flowery prose style. It's decent Advent or Lent reading. Possibly empowering for contemplation toward a change of emphasis or direction in attentions from his life's example.

It's old style lyrical. But I'm not sure that his young life would resonant much with the current young adult generation from the style of writing alone. Hope I'm wrong.
Mar 06, 2011 Donovan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, favorites
Just finished this short and wonderful memoir of Buechner's early days. He chronicles the sounds and words of his life - the simple memories that slowly pushed and pulled him towards the mystery of faith in his late twenties. He captures the tragedies of his early life and the small beauties that were found in there as well. He shares with us his heart and his journey and makes us think that we are not alone.

He writes, "Listen. Your life is happening. You are happening. You back on your journey.
Aug 25, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it
I almost brought this book back to the library after reading several pages of Buechner's long paragraphs and rather complicated, flowery prose. I am glad I stuck with it. It's not a linear autobiography but instead a series of childhood memories of people and places and feelings from a boy who liked rain and books.

Buechner recalls his father's death in a way which made me think of Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking when in a moment one's life changes completely. He tells of it in such an und
Henry Sturcke
Feb 05, 2014 Henry Sturcke rated it really liked it
This slim volume is one of the best conversion narratives I've read, reminiscent in some way of Augustine's Confessions, yet also uniquely the voice of Buechner. It is not a complete narrative of the author's childhood and youth, but episodic in form. Even the incidents he includes are told elliptically. Its diffident, evocative style is clearly the result of careful craftsmanship, but also gives a feeling of what it would be like to sit and talk with the man. The triadic structure of childhood ...more
Rick Hamlin
Mar 03, 2013 Rick Hamlin rated it it was amazing
Succinct, profound, elegant, inspiring. Other spiritual memoirs might be more dramatic or longer or hipper, but this one, written more than a generation ago, still holds its devastating power. The scenes in it, however short, stay in the mind forever. Transforming.
Jul 29, 2007 Dayspring rated it it was amazing
This was the first book that brought me into the world of Buechner. Each time I read Buechner, I am struck by more than his characters, reflections, and stories (which are also incredible); mostly I am amazed by his beautiful way with the english language.
"All theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography, and that what a theologian is doing essentially is examining as honestly as he can the rough-and-tumble of his own experiences with all its ups and downs, its mysteries and loose ends...I determined to try and describe my own life as evocatively and candidly as I could in the hope that such glimmers of theological truth as I believed I had glimpsed in it would shine through my description more or less on their own. It seemed to me t ...more
Gary B
Dec 12, 2015 Gary B rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
A selective memoir of the early years of Frederick Buechner from his early life until his conversion somewhere in his early twenties. Some of his recollections made me laugh out loud and read selections to whoever was nearby at the time.

Frederick offers great insight into his development - to those peculiar events and circumstances that have formed him. He candidly remembers significant meetings but can't remember a word that was spoken, and he recalls conversations or encounters that were so mi
Cindy Munoz
Beautiful, profound, quick read. Frederick Buechner writes about his early life in this short book, which was hard to put down. Several passages made me stop and re-read, savoring the beauty and wisdom Buechner conveyed. He writes about the highs and lows he experienced in the first twenty-odd years of his life, and slowly being led to Christ because of it. Worth the read.
By the way, here's one of the passages that stuck with me:
"The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of realit
Scott Harris
Aug 02, 2011 Scott Harris rated it it was amazing
Buechner's accounts of his early days make one appreciate the serendipity of life, where tragedy and fortune play together to lay the course which we all tread. The author's candor about his insights, even his lack thereof, make his book a refreshing reminder of the need to approach life with humility. The almost comical tone with which he forgets the once evidently all-important self-assessments of his youth also profess a deep willingness to experience life, even the past, as something that is ...more
Kim Buchanan
Jan 30, 2013 Kim Buchanan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual-memoir
The first installment of Buechner's takes him from birth up to his call to ministry. Includes lots of good quotes (see below) about the nature of memoir.

There's not a whole lot of God in this first volume...Buechner is finding his way. A very good beginning, though. Buechner writes so well! Can't wait to read the rest.


"About ten years ago I gave a set of lectures at Harvard in which I made the observation that all theology, like all fiction, is at its heart authobiograp
Oct 22, 2011 Linda marked it as to-read
What a beautiful book! A moving, very personal memoir of one man's faith journey. I found myself crying for and with him more than once, both out of sorrow and joy. And his writing is absolutely awe-inspiring. For example: "And my friend's broken voice on the phone was a voice calling me out into that dangerous world not simply for his sake, as I suddenly saw it, but also for my sake. The shattering revelation of that moment was that true peace, the high and bidding peace that passeth all unders ...more
Joe Rodeck
Feb 20, 2016 Joe Rodeck rated it it was ok
More musings than memoir. Uses Caliban’s [The Tempest] famous speech as part of his spiritual journey that starts in Bermuda. As Buechner develops his theology, he eventually rediscovers a more meaningful, personal Christ.

Points granted for short and sweet; though it’s only mildly interesting. He mainly talks about his wanting to become a poet. I’d recommend this only to great admirers who need to know more about their favorite author.
Aug 01, 2013 Joy rated it it was amazing
Buechner is a favorite Christian author, so I suppose his writings will always get five stars. He is so warm, wise, unpretentious, open-hearted, and honest. This was a biography of his early life. He even reminds me of a favorite novelist, Parker, when he says, "I knew weather of all kinds, and of all kinds loved rain best and always have." I hope he's gotten to enjoy lots of Florida summer afternoon thunderstorms. "More than anything, I think I loved rain for the power it had to make indoors se ...more
Dec 12, 2015 Helene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The way he explains experiencing hearing from God is the best I have ever read. Also his insights into how God drew him before his actual conversion are very familiar yet very personal and unique. His reflections on how his early success in writing motivated as well as haunted him is helpful as we all struggle with expectations versus reality.
Shane Saxon
Aug 27, 2014 Shane Saxon rated it liked it
This was a solid book overall. I don't enjoy books where I feel like I can't enjoy the book unless I'm a card carrying member of the author's clique. But, that being said, I thought Buechner made some profound points, and I resonated with some of his experiences.
Jan 20, 2015 Ron rated it liked it
Shelves: church
This book goes through some of Buechner's life as a child (dealing with his father's suicide), off at college, and his early teaching. He describes some of the ways that God works in his life without even knowing it. Not his best work, but short.
Sep 05, 2013 Leah rated it it was amazing
This is the first Buechner book I've read and boy did I ever fall in love with his writing. My pastor quotes this guy all the time, but it wasn't until I read that he's one of Anne Lamott's favorite theologians that I was convinced. This is a good book to start with because it's really his story of how he came to know God in a rather unconventional way. It's a sad story of his dad's suicide, and later his uncle's. How Buechner struggled with his identity and how he came to know God. His writing ...more
Stephanie Keaty
Feb 04, 2015 Stephanie Keaty rated it liked it
I enjoy reading memoirs and would have rated this one higher if it had not been so sad.
His spiritual insights are encouraging and thought-provoking. Caused me to contemplate more on the concept of time.
Feb 13, 2014 Taryn rated it really liked it
Returning to my preferred genre felt strange but comforting. I'm always a bit tentative when picking up a new autobiography so I decided to ease back with someone I knew would be a sure bet... and almost predictably, I find myself thinking that Buechner is everything I hope to one day be as a writer. He has a way of describing the mysteries of life so brilliantly--whether tackling topics as difficult as his father's suicide, or as simplistic as the strange significance of a mish-mash of concurre ...more
Jul 10, 2016 Nan rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. There are many books that have touched me but none so deeply as the writing of Frederick Buechner. I've read the reviews of others and clearly he has touched them as well.

He speaks many times of the loss of his father and how deeply he suffered this loss and carried it with him always. I lost my father at a young age, not by suicide, but there were other painful circumstances. Thus his pain being so similar to mine was stunning.

I want to mov
Bobby Lehew
Sep 15, 2007 Bobby Lehew rated it it was amazing
I have so little time for thoughtful review; instead, I opt for a series of favorite passages from each book; (my apologies to authors everywhere for confounding intent by taking these out of context!) -

"I do not know why it is we remember so much about some of the small decisions of our lives and so little about most of the great ones, but for me at least that has always tended to be the case. Maybe it is because the great decisions are not made at some particular moment in time but deep withi
Mitch Mallary
Aug 30, 2016 Mitch Mallary rated it liked it
Skillful writer guiding his readers into an important process of reflection.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 93 94 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Preaching Life
  • Mudhouse Sabbath
  • Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace
  • Holy the Firm
  • The Irrational Season (Crosswicks Journals, #3)
  • The Pastor: A Memoir
  • This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers
  • Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery
  • The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath
  • Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
  • Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life
  • Virgin Time: In Search of the Contemplative Life
  • Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master
  • Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church
  • Ragman: And Other Cries of Faith
  • Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology
Frederick Buechner is a highly influential writer and theologian who has won awards for his poetry, short stories, novels and theological writings. His work pioneered the genre of spiritual memoir, laying the groundwork for writers such as Anne Lamott, Rob Bell and Lauren Winner.

His first book, A Long Day's Dying, was published to acclaim just two years after he graduated from Princeton. He entere
More about Frederick Buechner...

Share This Book

“To journey for the sake of saving our own lives is little by little to cease to live in any sense that really matters, even to ourselves, because it is only by journeying for the world's sake - even when the world bores and sickens and scares you half to death - that little by little we start to come alive.” 44 likes
“You can survive on your own; you can grow strong on your own; you can prevail on your own; but you cannot become human on your own.” 27 likes
More quotes…