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The Sacred Journey
Frederick Buechner
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The Sacred Journey

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  1,334 Ratings  ·  88 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, Large Print, 166 pages
Published December 31st 1984 by Christian Large Print (first published 1982)
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Jul 30, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 17, 2011 Rebekah Choat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 21, 2011 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Matthew Ritter
Nov 22, 2013 Matthew Ritter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf-memoir
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
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
Feb 27, 2011 Donovan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Megan S Spark
Jan 21, 2016 Megan S Spark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
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.
Oct 23, 2016 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've known for a while, originally secondhand and then with each of his books that I've read for myself, that Buechner is a great and profound author. This book is the one where I first realised that I love him as an author.

From an academic standpoint, this is theology through autobiography. And in his command of the tools of writing, it is both beautiful and revelatory.
Rick Hamlin
Mar 03, 2013 Rick Hamlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Jan 14, 2017 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In his first of three autobiographical memoirs, Buchner reflects on his early years. An overarching theme of his writing is that just as fiction and theology are somewhat autobiographical, so autobiographical writings form a plot and offer theological insight.
His first chapter is titled, "Once Below a Time," and retells his innocent, ignorant childhood - when his perspective was very limited. "Once Upon a Time" describes the years following his father's suicide, when he started growing as a mor
Aunt Edie
Feb 13, 2017 Aunt Edie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, faith
Beautifully written autobiography of childhood. Vivid descriptions of life in another era make it a worthwhile read.
Kim Buchanan
Jan 29, 2013 Kim Buchanan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark Thomas
Dec 30, 2016 Mark Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much more than just a memoir. A rich study of life, direction and purpose.
"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
Aug 24, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Scott Harris
Aug 02, 2011 Scott Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 01, 2013 Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 25, 2011 Linda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 06, 2016 BDC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be very unique. It is in someways a theology in narrative or autobiographical form. Buecher tells the story of the influences in his life that brought him to faith in Christ. This could seem narcissistic but it isn't. In fact it is a beautiful, honest, humble, and ordinary tale. I particularly enjoyed it because in our day and age we want the 'now' and the 'current.' And in so doing we are missing out on the voice of the.. how do I say.. the elderly, the aged... those who h ...more
Henry Sturcke
Feb 05, 2014 Henry Sturcke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2010 Taryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2010 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Gary B
Dec 09, 2015 Gary B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 12, 2012 Nan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 14, 2011 Sherrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
What a lovely work! Frederick Buechner has graciously and beautifully written of his early days, his childhood in a way I've not read before, and I truly loved it. Buechner's prose and memories evoke many of my own feelings growing up even though our lives were quite different. He has a way of "taking you back in time."

I recommend this book to anyone considering or in the process of writing memoir or a life story as it has a style altogether different from what we find in bookstores and librarie
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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
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“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
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