How does he do it? St. Fred always manages to illuminate and enervate concepts that others have beaten to death. (I'm sorry to say that I know this because I have sat through many, many church services in my life, some of which leave a person wanting less, not more, of the god being discussed. When you're thirsty, you want water: pure, clear water. Not something fizzy and sweet, and definitely not vinegar, either. But I digress.) Take, for example, Buechner's words on, well, words--and John's gospel. I just read this today in Listening to Your Life:
John was a poet, and he knew about words. He knew that all men and all women are mysteries known only to themselves until they speak a word that opens up the mystery. He knew that the words people speak have their life in them just as surely as they have their breath in them. He knew that the words people speak have dynamite in them and that a word may be all it takes to set somebody's heart on fire or break it in two. He knew that words break silence and that the word that is spoken is the word that is heard and may even be answered. And at the beginning of his gospel he wrote a poem about the Word that God spoke.
I love the way Buechner explains the volatile power of words, and identifies John the Evangelist as a poet paying homage to the true Source of all poetry, who in turn lends us some of that very same power. I read his paragraph again, and felt dumbstruck and amazed, kind of like the way I did when I held my oldest son just minutes after his birth, or the first time I held a loaded gun--very carefully, and thinking, I can't believe they're letting me hold this thing! Then I reread John 1, and I really have no words. I've turned a verse into a found poem/haiku because I feel ridiculous and unworthy trying to write something new in response to something so sublime.
the light shines in the
darkness but the darkness has
not understood it