Monday with Frederick Buechner
“Where Our Best Dreams Come From”
Somebody appears on your front stoop speaking your name, say, and you go down to open the door to see what’s up. Sometimes while it’s still raining, the sun comes out from behind the clouds, and suddenly, arching against the gray sky, there is a rainbow, which people stop doing whatever they’re doing to look at. They lay down their fishing nets, their tax forms, their bridge hands, their golf clubs, their newspapers to gaze at the sky because what is happening up there is so marvelous they can’t help themselves. Something like that, I think, is the way those twelve men Matthew names were called to become a church, plus Mary, Martha, Joanna, and all the other women and men who one way or another became part of it too. One way or another Christ called them. That’s how it happened. They saw the marvel of him arch across the grayness of things — the grayness of their own lives, perhaps, of life itself. They heard his voice calling their names. And they went.
They seem to have gone right on working at pretty much whatever they’d been working at before, which means that he didn’t so much call them out of their ordinary lives as he called them out of believing that ordinary life is ordinary. He called them to see that no matter how ordinary it may seem to us as we live it, life is extraordinary. “The Kingdom of God is at hand” is the way he put it to them, and the way he told them to put it to others. Life even at its most monotonous and backbreaking and heart-numbing has the Kingdom buried in it the way a field has treasures buried in it, he said. The Kingdom of God is as close to us as some precious keepsake we’ve been looking for for years, which is lying just in the next room under the rug all but crying out to us to come find it. If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.
• from Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons
by Frederick Buechner