POWER POINTS: The Remarkable Ordinary by Frederick Buechner

A collection of Buechner’s lectures pointing out the whispers of God in every day life. The editor, John Sloan, writes, in the foreword:

“Many times we say life is typical, mundane, common, routine, or dull. Buechner convinces us that every moment is worth it. Our steps are the beginning of a walk into a hall of art, life, and meaning that will never disappoint.”


  • Frame the face. We are surrounded by faces… people. So many common, normal, forgettable faces. A most common, forgettable face has become one of the most memorable faces in history… Mona Lisa. What makes that normal face memorable is the frame! The frame draws our attention… makes us stop… look… pay attention… and quickly that common, forgettable face becomes etched into our mind (I’ll bet as soon as you read the words “Mona Lisa” her face popped into your mind). We cannot frame EVERY face in our life… but what would happen if we took the time to frame some faces… to really look into their eyes… to slow down and pay attention to the face in front of us… what might we see that we are currently missing? Frame the face and you might discover a masterpiece!


  • “Look with Rembrandt’s eye, listen with Bach’s ear, look with X-ray eyes that see beneath the surface to whatever lies beneath the surface.”


  • “To love somebody we must see that person’s face, and once in a while we do. Usually because something jolts us into seeing it.”


  • “The faces we lose track of most easily are the faces of the people who are closest to us, the people we love the most whose faces we see so often that we can’t see them anymore.”


  • Sometimes… many times we ask people “How are you”… and hope they don’t really tell us.



  • Fredrick Buechner (male, white, relatively wealthy) – Maya Angelou (female, black, poor)… “I have exactly the same story to tell as Fredrick Buechner.” “We are all born in the same way, we all have to somehow survive our childhoods- the bad parts of them, the confusing and painful parts of them – we all have to find a self to be, we all grow old and grow sick and finally die. This is the human story”(Buechner).


  • The nonverbal arts such as painting and music can help us connect to the divine.


  • Story – a sequence, a chronological sequence of events.  “The king died and then the queen died.” Plot – suggests a because, a cause and effect, a shape, a getting to somewhere. “When the king died, the queen died because she loved the king.” “I think that a part of what to tell one’s won story in a religious sense means is to affirm that there is a plot to one’s life. It’s not just incident following incident without any particular direction or purpose, but things are happening to take you somewhere.”


  • “Looking back at my life and finding that very often things that seemed at the time to have had very little significance were key points in the plot of my life.”


  • On dreams… “There’s a sense in which the dream is yours, your creation, yet at the same time as everybody knows, the dream speaks to you a word that seems to come from someplace other than yourself, because it’s often a revelation. […] So it’s both a word from you, but it’s also a word to you.”


  • “In telling my variation of the human story, I discovered cracks in the ground of my life through which I was able to glimpse the subterranean, life-giving grace of God.”


  • “The crying came much later, fifty years later.” (reflecting on how he dealt with his father’s suicide)


  • Sometimes silence is better than answers… because those answers are often forgotten as quickly as the names of the people who gave them. In the silence we often learn things about God… ourselves… life… that do leave us unchanged. Silence is often “the answer without words.”


  • “With all the time in the world to do what I most wanted to do, I found it impossible to do it.”


  • My life is a source of treasure… a discovery box of God’s grace…


  • “To play it safe, to stay home where the candles are lit and the meal is prepared was to have your life somehow diminished. To go out into the world, even if the world scares the hell out of you, and bores you to death, and intimidates you, and confuses you – that is the only life.”


  • Sometimes we are not ready to hear… we may hear the words but we have no idea what they are saying. Hearing is for those are in the season of listening.


  • “Our peace is threatened by the un-peace of others.”

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