I have recently been on a Frederick Buechner kick. I first read Godric when I was at Augustine College three years ago. Since December I have read his novel Brendan and two of his memoirs, Telling Secrets and The Sacred Journey. If I was going to recommend somewhere to start it would be The Sacred Journey for his nonfiction and Brendan for his fiction work.
Brendan was the first novel that has made me cry in a long time. The perfection of the ending, which I won’t give away here, was astounding. In both Brendan and Godric Buechner deals with the humanness of Saints. In Brendan we see the title character through the eyes of his close companion and follower Finn. Finn tells us the story of Brendan’s growth from an arrogant miracle worker to the realization that seeking glory in his deeds and his adventures matter little. Instead, “‘to lend each other a hand when we’re falling,’ Brendan said, ‘Perhaps that’s the only work that matters in the end.’”(217)
In Godric the title character is also the main narrator. I am rereading it after having nearly despised it the first time in my literature class at Augustine. I have grown up a bit since then, and this novel has grown on me. The most compelling part of this story so far is Godric’s awareness of his deep brokenness and sin, and his hagiographer, Reginald’s, firm belief in his sanctity. Godric’s story is another one of the disconnect between self-perception, and what outsiders see.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about Telling Secrets and the Sacred Journey, two of Buechner’s memoirs.