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The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days

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4.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,625 ratings  ·  124 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)
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Gretchen
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've finished my first Buechner, a birthday gift from a friend, and what a gift (both the words and the friend). Just after receiving The Sacred Journey, I heard a podcast guest on What Should I Read Next list this author as one of her all-time favorites. And just this week, after reading a large portion of the middle section of this lovely memoir, I heard another work of Buechner's (Whistling in the Dark) quoted on two different episodes of The Next Right Thing podcast.

I understand the attenti
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Carol
Jul 30, 2011 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
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Rebekah Choat
May 17, 2011 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
...more
Karen
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the most thought-provoking and encouraging book I have read in quite some time. What a writer. So many of the experiences (mostly "ah ha" moments, really) that Buechner shares resonate with my soul. I marked so many pages. I must read more of Frederick Buechner's writing.
Marty
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was given this book by my brother-in-law, who has me figured out well. This is a beautiful memoir and does truly tell, not one man's story, but the story of many.
Buechner's descriptions are sensual and rich. They draw vivid lines and yet feel like dreams. I'm so glad I finally got into this book. I started it on a reading-adventure-day in the sun with a friend. And so I will, gratefully, be able to tie it in my memory to both people in my life.

One powerful selection that rung me on self refl
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Emily
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's been a while since I stayed up through the night to complete a book. The Sacred Journey was the perfect one for me to read during this time of "lenten lack" as I guess you could call it—no TV, no YouTube, none of the usual stuff I use to distract myself. It forces me to confront the quiet; but Buechner has a better phrase: he endorses the regular exercise of listening to your life.

He gives us just a handful of pages and all are beautifully expressed—it's Buechner after all—and yes, it's mem
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Melanie
May 21, 2011 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
Matthew Ritter
Nov 22, 2013 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
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Elizabeth
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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
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Donovan
Feb 27, 2011 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.
...more
Megan S Spark
Jan 21, 2016 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
Jeanette
Nov 28, 2014 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.
Andrew
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dayspring
Jul 29, 2007 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.
Rick Hamlin
Mar 03, 2013 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.
Meredith
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A beautiful, deeply moving book - perhaps because I identified very strongly with the author. Who, at the end of the book, gets in to Union Theological Seminary at the age of 27. It must be a sign!
Josh
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
A little verbose at many points,yet an enjoyable read.
Joanna
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
On the strength of this sentence alone, I’ll read more by him: “...in the long run, there can be no real joy for anybody until there is joy finally for us all.”
Joe Henry
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Buechner's biggest first splash of literary work was a novel (A Long Day's Dying, 1950)...and a very successful one, by all accounts...and this 1982 work of non-fiction reads like a novel.

When I read the text here, I imagine that he writes as if he were speaking...and speaking very well...telling his story in gripping fashion...in very long sentences (though not the infamous "run-on" variety, that you would say) and short...a mix, flowing naturally...cohesive. You might think, then, that having
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Alan
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Buechner, a Presbyterian minister, writes in the Introduction, “I think of my life and of the lives of everyone who has ever lived, or will ever live, as not just journeys through time but as sacred journeys.” He then sets himself the task of looking back over the first half of his life for “whatever meaning, of holiness, of God, there may be in it to hear.” So, The Sacred Journey is Buechner’s ‘spiritual autobiography,' a la EfM, of the first half of his life.

I liked his project from the begin
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Michelle
...”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 understanding, is to be had not in retreat from the battle, but only in the thick of the battle. 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 oursel ...more
Sandra
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lovely message, but I came in not expecting a memoir but more meat. I loved the introduction best for that reason- which was lovely:

“Like the Hebrew alphabet, the alphabet of grace has no vowel, and in that sense his words to us are always veiled, subtle, cryptic, so that it is left to us to delve their meaning, to fill in he vowels, for ourselves by means of all the faith and imagination we can muster.”

“Deep within history, as it gets itself written down in history books and newspapers, in the
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Jane
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was the cover. I read it in pb.
Rec from LU article class reads.
Any story of someone not raised in a faith that discovers God's hand in their past will always hook me. His writing style was difficult for me to get.
But he noticed their were "moments" in his past, recognized them as "gifts" and determined there must be a "Giver" and that is faith. I liked that.
Also those things are at once both "chance" things AND "God's things." "There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak."
"I do
...more
Christopher
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoy this short little memoir and its reflections on coming to a greater awareness of God, time, reality, relationships, and how to move through all this in one's imperfect humanity. The particular ways in which Buchner marks pivotal moments in his growth and development– often tied to family tragedy– was inspiring, leading me to consider similar turning points in my own life. A good book that I'd recommend to friends looking for an easy, engaging, yet deep encouragement to consider anew thei ...more
Mary
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Only in my middle age did it become real enough for me to weep real tears…and to see better…who it was I was weeping for and who I was that was weeping.” Beuchner has a poet’s gift, adding rich philosophical musings that are Biblically grounded. This is his most personally difficult, finally beautiful journey. I love this writer.

for the books on this shelf I don't have dates, but I started my research in 2011 thru to about 2014 to gather an idea of what's out there already related to what was m
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Stanley Turner
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Interesting beginning for a pastor/writer. I am also reading his devotional work Listening to Your Life that was recommended by Ryan Holiday. Until I started reading the devotional I do not recall hearing of Buechner, but really enjoy reading some of his devotional writings and other writings outside of his books. This is a really good book on his rise from the death of his father by suicide, to published author to figuring out what he was going to do with his life. Highly recommended...SLT
Charles Gonzalez
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This slim volume was irresistible and compelling. I was visiting Vermont and stopped in a local bookstore and happened on this short yet arresting memoir/essay describing the authors journey of self awareness and appreciation for the accidental, yet perhaps ordained events of his life. Like others reviewing it, I found the authors self examination and ultimate discovery of Christ in his life to be my most important take away as I continue on my own “sacred journey”.
John
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The five stars is really for the final section. While I appreciated the perspective of the first two chapters, Buechner creates a densely populated forest of God's grace in the final section. Page after page I was struck with something significant, perspective altering. The most impactful of these moments: "In the long run, there can be no real joy for anybody until there is joy finally for us all." Amen to that.
Hannah
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While reading Buechner's memoir, I couldn't help but think of the life events and odd memories that have shaped my faith; that continue to shape my view of God and the world. We each have a unique story to tell and Buechner, in telling his, reminds us to consider the stories of others and discover how we can be so different and yet so alike.
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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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Dystopias, alien invasions, regenerated dinosaurs, space operas, multiverses, and more, the realm of science fiction takes readers out of this ...
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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.” 47 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.” 36 likes
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