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The Sacred Journey

4.3  ·  Rating details ·  1,439 Ratings  ·  97 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.
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published May 1st 1985 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1982)
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Jul 30, 2011 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 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
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 21, 2011 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Joe Henry
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
“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
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Hannah A.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sharon Archer
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
A most painfully honest account of his early life...
Laura Luzzi
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I love the way this man writes and I loved this book. It was great and we are all on our own sacred journey. Need to read more of his books.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Buechner writes in extremely inviting prose, and the memoirs of his life are touching, relatable, and at times heart breaking. Really well-written.
Kim Buchanan
Jan 29, 2013 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
"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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual-memoir
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
Aunt Edie
Feb 13, 2017 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.
Scott Harris
Aug 02, 2011 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 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
Jan 14, 2017 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
Jul 25, 2011 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 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
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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.” 45 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.” 33 likes
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