Carl Frederick Buechner ( BEEK-nər; born July 11, 1926) is an American writer, novelist, poet, autobiographer, essayist, preacher, and theologian. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister and the author of more than thirty published books. His work encompasses different genres, including fiction, autobiography, essays and sermons, and his career has spanned more than six decades. Buechner's books have been translated into many languages for publication around the world. He is best known for his novels, including A Long Day's Dying, The Book of Bebb, Godric (a finalist for the 1981 Pulitzer Prize), and Brendan, his memoirs, including Telling Secrets and The Sacred Journey, and his more theological works, including Secrets in the Dark, The Magnificent Defeat, and Telling the Truth.
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I remember sitting parked by the roadside once, terribly depressed and afraid about my daughter's illness and what was going on in our family, when out of nowhere a car came along down the highway with a license plate that bore on it the one word out of all the words in the dictionary that I needed most to see exactly then. The word was trust. What do you call a moment like that? Something to laugh off as the kind of joke life plays on us every once in a while? The word of God? . . . The owner of the car turned out to be, as I'd suspected, a trust officer in a bank, and not long ago, having read an account I wrote of the incident somewhere, he found out where I lived and one afternoon brought me the license plate itself, which sits propped up on a bookshelf in my house to this day. It is rusty around the edges and a little battered, and it is also as holy a relic as I have ever seen.
What is sacred about all of our lives, even those of us who would never dream of using such a word for it, is that God speaks to us through what happens to us — even through such unpromising events as walking up the road to get the mail out of the mailbox, maybe, or seeing something in the news that brings you up short, or laughing yourself silly with a friend. If skeptics ask to be shown an instance of God speaking to them in their lives, I suggest that they pay closer attention to the next time when, for unaccountable reasons, they find tears in their eyes.