“Now & Then” by Frederick Buechner – On the vulnerability of love

Now & Then

Yesterday I posted an excerpt from “Godric” which is a semi-fictional work based on a Medieval Saint. “Now and Then” is one of several auto-biographical works by Buechner, and the following excerpt is closely related to yesterday’s excerpt from Godric.

“He who loves has fifty woes…who loves none has no woe,” said the Buddha, and it is true. To love another, as you a child, is to become vulnerable in a whole new way. It is no longer only through what happens to yourself that the world can hurt you but through what happens to the one you love also and greatly more hurtingly…

…What man and woman, if they gave serious thought to what having children inevitably involves, would ever have them? Yet what man and woman, once having had them and loved them, would ever want it otherwise? Because side by side with the Buddha’s truth is the Gospel truth that “he who does not love remains in death.” If by some magic you could eliminate the pain you are caused by the pain of someone you love, I for one cannot imagine working such magic because the pain is so much a part of the love that the love would be vastly diminished, unrecognizable, without it.”

Just prior to this excerpt Buechner had also written the following:

“Buddha sits enthroned beneath the Bo-tree in the lotus position. His lips are faintly parted in the smile of one who has passed beyond every power in earth or heaven to touch him…His eyes are closed

Christ, on the other hand, stands in the garden of Gethsemane, angular, beleagured. His face is lost in shadows so that you can’t even see his lips, and before all the powers in earth or heaven he is powerless. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you,” he has said. His eyes are also closed.

The difference seems to me this, The suffering that Buddha’s eyes close out is the suffering of the world that Christ’s eyes close in and hallow.” (Now and Then, 53-56)

Comments are always welcomed! Thank you.

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013