Many authors have influenced my spiritual formation over the past thirty years. But the one I have loved and appreciated the most is Frederick Buechner. Buechner died on August 15, and I am heartbroken. As a writer, I have thrilled to the beauty and originality of his writing. As a seeker, I have been blessed by his wisdom and daring. As someone who is filled with wonder at the depth of God’s grace, I have been moved by his constant growth in the understanding of that grace. As a person nearing 80 years of age, I have begun to understand the depth of his thinking. I mourn his death, but I am comforted by the fact that his life-giving writing remains.
Below is the notice of his death sent by his son-in-law.
It is with great sadness—but greater appreciation for his long and exceptionally well-lived and listened-to life—that I write to share the news of the passing of my father-in-law, Reverend Frederick Buechner. He died peacefully in Rupert, Vt. on August 15, 2022, at the age of 96.
Frederick was a life giver to countless many around the world. He told the stories of us all: through overwhelming love, unbearable pain, great laughter, artistry, humility, and awe. His wonder at the miracle of grace around him never left him, and his writing, preaching, and presence will be with us forever
Throughout his life, Frederick enjoyed the support of an uncommonly devoted readership. His readership nourished him and helped inspire him to write nearly 40 books now read in over two dozen languages world-wide. On his family’s behalf, I wish to extend our most heartfelt gratitude.
The following quote from Buechner hangs on my “office” wall. It seems appropriate to share it on the day we learn of his death.
By Letting Go
“We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go. We become something new by ceasing to be something old. This seems to be close to the heart of that mystery. I know more know than I ever did about the far side of death as the last letting-go of all but I begin to know that I do not need to know and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing. God knows. That is all that matters.
Out of Nothing he creates Something. Out of the End he creates the Beginning. Out of selfness we grow, by his grace, toward selflessness, and out of that final selflessness which is the loss of self altogether, “eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man” what new marvels he will bring to pass next. All’s lost. All’s found. And if such words sound childish, so be it. Out of each old self that dies some precious essence is preserved for the new self that is born; and within the child-self that is part of us all, there is perhaps nothing more precious than the fathomless capacity to trust” (A Room to Remember).