Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Rider

I am a big fan of Frederick Buechner. In fact, almost everything I read of his I think "I need to start a blog so I can share this good stuff!" My intention in starting this is not necessarily to rewrite his thoughts as my own, but simply to share some, maybe often random, "budding ruminations" of a Seattle transplant figuring out a new chapter of life in the great country state of Texas.

Today, though, I do want to share an excerpt from The Hungering Dark- my most recent Buechner expedition. This short section comes right after an explanation of the triumphal entry narrative, hence "The Rider". I found this to be particularly powerful in light of the upcoming holiday fondly known as Good Friday...

"On his last evening, they eat supper together for the last time, the rider and his friends, in some large room, upstairs somewhere in the city, a real room with things in it carpentered out of wood, course cloth, ragged moth at the candle flame, clink of pottery. Hands of bone and muscle move through the air, the sounds that men make eating. One of them wipes the back of his hand across his bearded mouth. Another eats like a drunk, never once taking his eyes off the one face of all their faces that is still, in the way the air just before a storm is still. As was the custom, the rider gets up to bless the bread, gives thanks for it; and as was the custom, he takes the loaf up into his hands and breaks it for them. Then the unaccustomed thing. He gives the loaf a name, his body, the dark wine a name, his blood, whatever he means by it, and tells them to eat and drink, although God knows they have no stomach for food now and their mouths are clumsy and spit-dry with, among other things, fear. In other words, he tells them to take his life into themselves and live it for him.

Ever since, the bread has been broken, the wine poured out, in commemoration of his death. Some come, not so many anymore but always some, always enough, and the Lord knows why they do, why we do. Probably for the same reason that for century after century men have always come-because although there is much that we cannot understand, much that we cannot believe, the inexorable life in him draws us to him the way a glimmer of light draws a man who has lost his way in the dark. Because we are hungry for more than bread. Because we are thirsty for more than wine. That is the reason you have for coming to such a table, the reason I have for coming, and that is the only reason we need to have, thank God."