Categories
attention the real self

A million things

…to run anything in this world…is like being lost in a forest of a million trees…and each tree is a thing to be done… A million trees. A million things. Until finally we have eyes for nothing else, and whatever we see turns into a thing.

So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When he came, I missed him.

— The Inkeeper

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “The Birth”

I can’t begin to convey the magic of Frederick Buechner’s sermon “The Birth”. Sermon isn’t really the right word. It’s more like three interviews with people who witnessed the event: the Innkeeper, the Wise Men, and the Shepherds. The quote above is from the Innkeeper’s account, his witness, his confession – that’s what it is in the end – his confession. And it’s my confession, too; maybe it’s yours.


  • Are we lost in the forest of our concerns, so lost we can’t see the Light of the World around and among us?
  • He came to his own people and his own people…”missed” him.  Do we, like the innkeeper, have no room, no mental or emotional space, for Jesus to be born? Are we missing him? Are we aware we are missing him?
  • What can we do to not miss him? (Attention is the beginning of devotion.)
  • List out some of the ‘million things’ in your life. Note down times in your life when those things caused you to miss something important. Write down what Jesus means to you and what you might do to give him more space in your life.

I highly recommend Buechner’s book and that you read this particular sermon. What I have shared here doesn’t begin to do it justice.

Grace and peace to you…

dw

p.s. This is a refresh of a past post from early 2018

Categories
attention

Frederick Buechner – A million things

…to run anything in this world…is like being lost in a forest of a million trees…and each tree is a thing to be done… A million trees. A million things. Until finally we have eyes for nothing else, and whatever we see turns into a thing.

So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When he came, I missed him.

— The Inkeeper

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “The Birth”

I can’t begin to convey the magic of Frederick Buechner’s sermon “The Birth”. Sermon isn’t really the right word. It’s more like three interviews with people who witnessed the event: the Innkeeper, the Wise Men, and the Shepherds. The quote above is from the Innkeeper’s account, his witness, his confession – that’s what it is in the end – his confession. And it’s my confession, too; maybe it’s yours.


  • Are we lost in the forest of our concerns, so lost we can’t see the Light of the World around and among us?
  • He came to his own people and his own people…”missed” him.  Do we, like the innkeeper, have no room, no mental or emotional space, for Jesus to be born? Are we missing him? Are we aware we are missing him?
  • What can we do to not miss him? (Attention is the beginning of devotion.)
  • List out some of the ‘million things’ in your life. Note down times in your life when those things caused you to miss something important. Write down what Jesus means to you and what you might do to give him more space in your life.

I highly recommend Buechner’s book and that you read this particular sermon. What I have shared here doesn’t begin to do it justice.

Grace and peace to you…

dw

 
Categories
attention light and darkness Scripture

Jesus, the light of the world

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12, NRSV Bible with Apocrypha

Jesus is all flame; he is the light of the world, the light of life for all people. Our desire to become all flame, as Abba Joseph puts it, is simply another way of saying we want to love Jesus so much we will follow him no matter what, just to be with him in his mission of truth, mercy, healing, provision, redemption, justice, and love.

I regret that I regularly and habitually focus on the ashes and not the light, as Thomas Merton writes; every time I do that, I forfeit an experience of the very best for something less than that. As Mary Oliver says, when I do that “there is something wrong, I know”.


  • What is  your response to Jesus’ claim to be “the light of the world”?
  • How do you manage in our culture that is designed and engineered to capture our attention in a million different ways?
  • What is your experience of “light” vs. “darkness” in your life?
  • Take a moment to write down what comes to your mind. Maybe share it with a loved one later.

Gracious God, in your mercy, enable us to follow Jesus more and more each day.

Grace and peace to you…

dw

Image – Rembrandt portrait of Jesus from wikiart.org