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A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces by Frederick Buechner
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“The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thoughts….We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember—the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
“To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness - especially in the wilderness - you shall love him.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
“From the essay on Love, in which he describes as a wilderness experience his daily visits with his wife to a hospital 3,000 miles from home in a strange city, where someone he loves is in danger of dying.
“When the worst finally happens, or almost happens, a kind of peace comes. I had passed beyond grief, beyond terror, all but beyond hope, and it was thee, in that wilderness, that for the first time in my life I caught sight of something of what it must be like to love God truly. It was only a glimpse, but it was like stumbling on fresh water in the desert, like remembering something so huge and extraordinary that my memory had been unable to contain it. Though God was nowhere to be clearly seen, nowhere to be clearly heard, I had to be near him—even in the elevator riding up to her floor, even walking down the corridor to the one door among all those doors that had her name taped on it. I loved him because there was nothing else left. I loved him because he seemed to have made himself as helpless in his might as I was in my helplessness. I loved him not so much in spite of there being nothing in it for me but almost because there was nothing in it for me. For the first time in my life, there in that wilderness, I caught a glimpse of what it must be like to love God truly, for his own sake, to love him no matter what. If I loved him with less than all my heart, soul, and will, I loved him with at least as much of them as I had left for loving anything…

I did not love God, God knows, because I was some sort of saint or hero. I did not love him because I suddenly saw the light (there was almost no light at all) or because I hoped by loving him to persuade him to heal the young woman I loved. I loved him because I couldn’t help myself. I loved him because the one who commands us to love is the one who also empowers us to love, as there in the wilderness of that dark and terrible time I was, through no doing of my own, empowered to love him at least a little, at least enough to survive. And in the midst of it, these small things happened that were as big as heaven and earth because through them a hope beyond hopelessness happened. “O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.”…

The final secret, I think, is this: that the words “You shall love the Lord your God” become in the end less a command than a promise.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
“To remember the past is to see that we are here today by grace, that we have survived as a gift.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
“Words written fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, can have as much of this power today as ever they had it then to come alive for us and in us and to make us more alive within ourselves. That, I suppose, is the final mystery as well as the final power of words: That not even across great distances of time and space do they ever lose their capacity for becoming incarnate. And when these words tell of virtue and nobility, when they move closer to that truth and gentleness of spirit by which we become fully human, the reading of them is sacramental; and a library is as holy a place as any temple is holy because through the words which are treasured in it the Word itself becomes flesh again and again and dwells among us and within us, full of grace and truth.
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember, in an essay called The Speaking and Writing of Words.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
“...With a religious book it is less what we see in it than what we see through it that matters. J. R. R. Tolkien's fairy-tale epic the Lord of the Rings helps draw the distinction perhaps. Some of its admirers have tried to make it into a religion book by claiming, among other things, that the Ring of Power which must be destroyed is the hydrogen bomb. Tolkien, on the other hand, denied this unequivocally. But intended or otherwise, there can be little doubt that for many it has become a religious book. The "Frodo Lives" buttons are not entirely a joke, because something at least comes to life through those fifteen hundred pages, although inevitably it is hard to say just what. It seems to have something to do with the way Tolkien has of making us see the quididity of things like wood, bread, stone, milk, iron, as though we have never seen them before or not for a long time, which is probably the truth of the matter; his landscapes set deeper echoes going in us than any message could. He gives us back a sense that we have mostly lost of the things of the earth, and because we are ourselves of the earth, whatever else, we are given back too some sense of our own secret. Very possibly again he did not intend it. I may well be axiomatic that, religiously, a writer achieves most when he is least conscious of doing so. Certainly the attempt to be religious is as doomed as the attempt to be poetic is.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
“I loved him because I couldn’t help myself. I loved him because the one who commands us to love is the one who also empowers us to love, as there in the wilderness of that dark and terrible time I was, through no doing of my own, empowered to love him at least a little, at least enough to survive. And in the midst of it, these small things happened that were as big as heaven and earth because through them a hope beyond hopelessness happened. “O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.”…

The final secret, I think, is this: that the words “You shall love the Lord your God” become in the end less a command than a promise.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
“We are all such escape artists, you and I. We don’t like to get too serious about things, especially about ourselves. When we are with other people, we are apt to talk about almost anything under the sun except for what really matters to us, except for our own lives, except for what is going on inside our own skins. We pass the time of day. We chatter. We hold each other at bay, keep our distance from each other even when God knows it is precisely each other that we desperately need.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
“Somos todos mais místicos do que acreditamos ou queremos crer (...). Temos visto mais do que deixamos transparecer, até para nós mesmos. Seja em momentos de beleza ou dor, seja por meio de alguma reviravolta sutil em nossa vida, ao menos vislumbramos o que cegou os santos; só que, ao contrário dos santos, seguimos em frente como se nada tivesse acontecido. Seguir em frente ciente de que algo aconteceu, apesar de não ter certeza do que foi, nem do que fazer com o que ocorreu, é entrar na dimensão da vida de que trata a palavra religião.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
“I remember, for instance, the first time I went to the great palace of Versailles outside Paris and how, as I wandered around among all those gardens and fountains and statues, I had a sense that the place was alive with ghosts which I was just barely able to see, that somewhere just beneath the surface of all that was going on around me at that moment, the past was going on around me too with such reality and such poignance that I had to have somebody else to tell about it if only to reassure myself that I wasn’t losing my mind. I wanted and sorely needed to name to another human being the sights that I was seeing and the thoughts and feelings they were giving rise to. I thought that in a way I could not even surely know what I was seeing physically until I could speak of it to someone else, could not come to terms with what I was feeling as either real or unreal until I could put it into words and speak those words and hear other words in response to mine. But there was nobody to speak to, as it happened, and I can still remember the frustration of it: the sense I had of something trying to be born in me that could not be born without the midwifery of expressing it; the sense, it might not be too much to say, of my self trying to be born, of a threshold I had to cross in order to move on into the next room of who I had it in me just then to become. “in the beginning was the Word,” John writes, and perhaps part of what that means is that until there is a word, there can be no beginning.
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember, in an essay called The Speaking and Writing of Words.”
Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces