“Godric” by Frederick Buechner – The advice Godric received from Tom Ball

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“This life of ours is like a street that passes many doors,” Ball said, “nor think you all doors I mean are wood. Every day’s a door and every night. When a man throws wide his arms to you in friendship, it’s a door he opens same as when a woman opens hers in wantonness. The street forks out, and there’s two doors to choose between. The meadow that tempts you rest your bones and dream a while. The rackribbed child that begs for scraps the dogs have left. The sea that calls a man to travel far. They all are doors, some God’s and some the Fiend’s. So choose with care which one’s you take, my son, and one day – who can say – you’ll reach the holy door itself.”

Godric, p. 24

I find these medieval views of life to be quite refreshing in their “black and white” morality versus the “grey areas” relativism of our postmodern age, and in their sheer meaningfulness. Have we postmoderns relativized our lives into practical meaninglessness? And are we requiring our children to make bricks with their lives without giving them any straw to make them with?

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A depiction of the Hebrews’ bondage in Egypt, during which they were forced to make bricks without straw.

Comments, questions, critiques, likes, are always welcome.

Thank you!

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013

“Godric” by Frederick Buechner – The blessing Godric received from Tom Ball

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Godric tells of the blessing he received from Tom Ball when he was about to leave home. Would that we all had received such a blessing as we ventured forth into the wide world.

“Tom Ball came by to bless me. Ball was a heavy, slow-paced man who had one eye that veered off on a starboard tack so you never knew for sure which way he looked. He entered our house splashed high with mud, for our yard was always a bog through spring. He sweated like a horse.

He laid his hands on me and blessed my eyes to see God’s image deep in every man. He blessed my ears to hear the cry especially of the poor. He blessed my lips to speak no word but Gospel truth. He warned against the Devil and his snares with always that one eye of his skewed off as if to watch for snares himself.”

“Godric”, pp. 23-4.

Some may think of this as merely superstition from “the dark ages” – but what is wrong with seeing the dignity of every person, hearing the cry of all and especially the poor, and speaking only truth and no falsehood? I think the Devil very much enjoys our “enlightened” age.

Likes, questions, comments, critiques are always welcome – thank you.

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Excerpts, links, and reblogging may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Frederick Buechner and Bruce Cockburn: On measuring death against life

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“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”

(Godric, Frederich Buechner, page 96)

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“Everything that rises afterward falls… But all that dies has first to live.”

(Joy Will Find A Way Bruce Cockburn, 1974)

 

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013

“Godric” by Frederick Buechner and “4 & 20” by Stephen Stills – Of father’s, sons, and poverties

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A meditation on familial life with selections from “Godric” by Frederick Buechner, and “4 & 20” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.

Godric had some interesting things to say about his father:

“Aedlward the freeman was my father, and Reginald has it that his name means Keeper of Blessedness. If so, he kept it mostly to himself, more’s the pity. I pity Aedlward. If he pitied me, he never said…

…It was fear kept Aedlward from us, and next to God what he feared of all things most was an empty belly. He had good cause. He had seen poor famished folk eat rat and cat and seen grown men suckle their wives for strength enough to ferret nuts to feed them. Bitterer fare than that a man will go to when his belly starts to gnaw itself. So it was his fear we’d starve that made him starve us for that one of all things that we hungered for the most, which was the man himself.” (“Godric,” pp. 9-10)

An interesting song with at least some similarity is the great song called “4 & 20” written by Stephen Stills.

Four and twenty years ago I come into this life
The son of a woman and a man who lived in strife
He was tired of bein’ poor and he wasn’t into sellin’ door to door
And he worked like the devil to be more

A different kind of poverty now upsets me so
Night after sleepless night I walk the floor and want to know
Why am I so alone? Where is my woman? Can I bring her home?
Have I driven her away? Is she gone?

Mornin’ comes the sunrise and I’m driven to my bed
I see that it is empty and there’s devils in my head
I embrace the many colored beast
I grow weary of the torment, can there be no peace?
And I find myself just wishin’ that my life would simply cease

It is extremely difficult to “work like the devil” and provide all that your children need, as Aedlward proved also. The fears of man toward evils such as poverty can bring poverty of soul that results from the starved relationships of father’s and sons (or daughters for that matter). One thing is sure, we all need to seek understanding and have forgiveness for our parents shortcomings that take root in the common struggles of life.

I could not but think of the fact that there was even a similarity in the experience of Jesus the “Son of God” that began in Gethsemane and ended with his crucifixion at Golgotha:

 “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46)

Though the “rift” in their relationship was for different reasons, not being caused by the “sins of the father” but by the “cup of God’s wrath against the sins of the world” that Jesus willingly endured for our salvation, yet nonetheless there was an unfathomable poverty of soul for Jesus the Son caused by the separation of connection in his relationship to his father.

 “But in the garden of Gethsemane, he turns to the Father and all he can see before him is wrath, the abyss, the chasm, the nothingness of the cup. God is the source of all love, all life, all light, all coherence. Therefore exclusion from God is exclusion from the source of all light, all love, all coherence. Jesus began to experience the spiritual, cosmic, infinite disintegration that would happen when he became separated from his Father on the cross. Jesus began to experience merely a foretaste of that, and staggered.” (“King’s Cross” by Timothy Keller, p. 176)

The separation of Jesus from his own Father, was at least partly for the purpose of reconciliation within the familial relationships of the human families.

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Excerpts, links, and reblogging may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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

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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

“Godric” by Frederick Buechner – On the wounds of friendship

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I have started reading the unusual and wonderful book “Godric” by Frederick Buechner, and plan to post some of the colorful passages therein as I discover them. I am grateful to have recently discovered the books of Frederick Buechner.

In chapter one, Godric tells of his five friends:

“That’s five friends, one for each of Jehu’s wounds, and Godric bears their mark still on what’s left of him as in their time they all bore his on them. What’s friendship, when all’s done, but the giving and taking of wounds?”

When Godric banished Fairweather and Tune, they all three bled for it, and part of Godric snaked of too nevermore to come again. And it’s Godric’s flesh that Ailred’s cough cleaves like an axe. And when brave Mouse went down off Wales, he bore to the bottom the cut of Godric’s sharp farewell. And when Gillian vanished in a Dover wood, she took with her all but the husk of Godric’s joy.”

Gentle Jehu, Mary’s son, be thine the wounds that heal our wounding. Press thy bloody scars to ours that thy dear blood may flow in us and cleanse our sin. Be thou in us and we in thee that Godric, Gillian, Ailred, Mouse and thou may be a woundless one at last.” (Godric, 7-8)

Notes: “Fairweather” and “Tune” were actually snakes, though “Mouse” was a real man, and a sea captain; Ailred was an abbot; of Gillian Godric says, “I have forgotten my father’s face. But her face I’ll remember ever. Gillian I will not forget.”

Comments are always welcomed! Thank you.

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013