Fetching Across the Ditch

March 12, 2008

I recently completed the most other-worldly, earthy, and Catholic book I’ve ever read.  Godric, by Frederick Buechner, is a sort of imaginitive biography of a 12th century English hermit.  There is much about the book that is disconcerting; much that is beautiful.  One of the consistent beauties of the book is Buechner’s ability to capture the complexity of the human heart, and of relationships.  For example, I loved the following description of William, Godric’s hard-working brother, who liked to talk.

And like his hands, his tongue, of course, was never still.  As birds must flap their wings to stay aloft, he flapped it on and on as if, were ever he to stop, he’d perish in the fall. 

I speak a word.  My friend speaks back.  Then I again, then he, and thus we make a bridge of words so each may fetch across the ditch that lies between what’s in his heart.  But William never paused enough to let the other have his say, for fear, I guess, his friend might flee away instead.  Thus no bridge ever crossed from him to anyone.  Of all the men I ever knew, I think my brother was the loneliest.

Profound.  And instructive.  Do I desire to make a bridge of words with others so that we each may fetch across the ditch into the other’s heart?  How well am I fetching across the ditch with my husband, or wife, or kids?  Would others affirm that I allow them to have their say?  Could excessive talking and minimal listening be the reason I have few good friends?  How does the gospel seek to correct any William-like tendencies in me?

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