Saturday, September 20, 2008

Looking for words

Earlier this week, I was looking for a particular Frederick Buechner quote that would have fit nicely in the previous post, The Whistling Physician. I searched high and low. I googled, I looked in BrainyQuote, and other sources on the web. I poured over Buechner's books, knowing it was there, but to no avail. I was left wanting. So, I published my remarks about Dr. Carpenter without the wise words of Frederick Buechner. You can probably tell where I'm going with this. You know by now, I found Buechner's words buried in an old journal this morning. In fact, it was years ago I'd cut the words out of a flyer sent to me by Daystar Counseling Ministries, and there they were in print:

I think of faith as a kind of whistling in the dark, because in much the same way it helps to give us courage and to hold the shadows at bay. To whistle in the dark isn't to pretend that the dark doesn't sometimes scare the living daylights out of us. Instead, I think, it is to demonstrate, if only to ourselves, that not even the dark can quite overcome our trust in the ultimate triumph of the Living Light.
- F. Buechner

Whether or not George Carpenter whistled "if only for himself" is hardly the point. His whistling did provoke in me a wonder. I did not know it as a child or even as an adolescent, but whistling is a signal of courage; a consideration of life and breath in the midst of melancholy and woe. My guess is, when we whistle, or do anything else for that matter, it is not for ourselves alone, no matter how much we'd like to think it so. Perhaps St. John inspired Buechner and Carpenter:

...And the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness overcame it not.
- John 1:5

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