The Whole Vast Drama of Things
Apologies for the lack of posting over the last little while—I find myself going through one of those stretches where I have very little that seems worth saying. Of course one of the benefits of times when words and ideas seem to desert us is that we can lean on and be nourished by the words of others. The writings of Frederick Buechner have often been a source of such words for me. Sometimes I feel that posting long quotes from the work of others is just a way of avoiding the sometimes painful process of writing myself; other times, I just feel grateful to have stumbled across something wise and glad to be able to share it.
This comes from Telling Secrets:
God acts in history and in your and my brief histories not as the puppeteer who sets the scene and works the strings but rather as the great director who no matter what role fate casts us in conveys to us somehow from the wings, if we have our eyes, ears, and hearts open and sometimes even if we don’t, how we can play those roles in a way to enrich and ennoble and hallow the whole vast drama of things including our own small but crucial parts in it.
In fact I am inclined to believe that God’s chief purpose in giving us memory is to enable us to go back in time so that if we didn’t play those roles right the first time round, we can still have another go at it now. We cannot undo our old mistakes or their consequences any more than we can erase old wounds that we have both suffered and inflicted, but through the power that memory gives us of thinking, feeling, imagining our way back through time we can at long last finally finish with the past in the sense of removing its power to hurt us and other people and to stunt our growth as human beings.
The sad things that happened long ago will always remain part of who we are just as the glad and gracious things will too, but instead of being a burden of guilt, recrimination, and regret that make us constantly stumble as we go, even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead. It is through memory that we are able to reclaim much of our lives that we have long since written off by finding that in everything that has happened to us over the years God was offering us possibilities of new life and healing which, though we may have missed them at the time, we can still choose and be brought to life by and healed by all these years later.