Speak What We Feel

So I am unashamedly stealing this title from Frederick Buechner, who borrowed it for his book from Shakespeare’s King Lear. Buechner’s book is important to me. It has taught me about writing and about life.

I wish I had my copy with me because I have an excerpt in mind and I’ll never be able to do it justice with a summary. Buechner’s book is a literary criticism (though so packed full of life-insights, it’s not what probably comes to mind when you hear the term ‘literary criticism’) that highlights four different writers of four different genres. He chooses a work from each that was written from “open veins”; in other words, written from the groping, questioning darkness of their souls. Buechner calls these four, “unexpected prophets who shine light into darkness,” because this kind of writing — the kind of writing that’s birthed from an honest pursuit of truth and meaning in reality amid the pain and suffering of this fallen world — this kind of writing (or art in general) produces light, hope, healing — not only for the author, but for his readers too.

The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

‘Speak what we feel’ isn’t about an abandonment of propriety. That’s the last thing I want. It’s about having the freedom to feel “unchristian” emotions — anger, fear, doubt, depression — and to work through them in a constructive way. For my purposes in this blog, the phrase is not only about the freedom to weep with those who weep, but also the freedom to rejoice with those who rejoice. So, although part of the context from which my new title derives is heavy, the larger context includes weeping and rejoicing, fullness of life; the context is light.

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