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The Alphabet of Grace

I’ve slowly been acquainting myself with the work of Frederick Buechner over the last couple of weeks. This is partly because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and partly because my dad had a book of his sermons and meditations lying around and I started reading it as I desperately searched for inspiration prior to speaking at my wife’s grandfather’s funeral back in Alberta this week. My brief exposure to him thus far has proven immensely rewarding (I read a lengthy passage from A Room Called Remember at the funeral) so today I went out and picked up a couple of his books.

One of these books is a collection of daily meditations called Listening to Your Life. The following comes from the January 3 entry (I had to catch up on what I’d missed thus far in the year!):

Life itself can be thought of as an alphabet by which God graciously makes known his presence and purpose and power among us. Like the Hebrew alphabet, the alphabet of grace has no vowels, and in that sense his words to us are always veiled, subtle, cryptic, so that it is left to us to delve their meaning, to fill in the vowels, for ourselves by means of all the faith and imagination we can muster. God speaks to us in such a way, presumably, not because he chooses to be obscure but because, unlike a dictionary word whose meaning is fixed, the meaning of an incarnate word is the meaning it has for the one it is spoken to, the meaning that becomes clear and effective in our lives only when we ferret it out for ourselves.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. J #

    Ryan,

    Making friends with Frederick Buechner will be one of the best things you ever do in life.

    February 11, 2008
  2. Yes, I remember you chastising me, many moons ago, for my ignorance of Buechner. I should have listened to you sooner…

    February 11, 2008

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