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The End of Innocence

In Search

FOR ADAM AND EVE, time started with their expulsion from the garden. For me, it started with the opening of a door. For all the sons and daughters of Eve, it starts at whatever moment it is at which the unthinking and timeless innocence of childhood ends, which may be either a dramatic moment, as it was for me, or a moment or series of moments so subtle and undramatic that we scarcely recognize them. But one way or another the journey through time starts for us all, and for all of us, too, that journey is in at least one sense the same journey because what it is primarily, I think, is a journey in search. Each must say for himself what he searches for, and there will be as many answers as there are searchers, but perhaps there are certain general answers that will do for us all. We search for a self to be. We search for other selves to love. We search for work to do. And since even when to one degree or another we find these things, we find also that there is still something crucial missing which we have not found, we search for that unfound thing too, even though we do not know its name or where it is to be found or even if it is to be found at all. -Originally published in The Sacred Journey by Frederick Buechner

What are you searching for? As Buechner so profoundly says, the journey in search of is the first step in the end of the "timeless innocence of childhood." When Buechner heard the opening of the door downstairs, his world as he knew it ended, and the truth about his father recalibrated everything. When Susan and Peter and Lucy and Edmund walked through the Wardrobe into Narnia, so too their innocence ended and their search for truth began.

What are you searching for? Whatever it is, it is only for you..."there are as many answers as there are searchers." As many times as I have read The Sacred Journey, I have never focused quite so deeply on this passage. Life is full of seasons, and it seems some are seasons of searching and others are seasons of finding. And you might find, just as I have, that often when you think you have found what you were looking for then another something pops up that sends you down the rabbit hole of another search.

On Sunday as we celebrated the Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, I was overwhelmed by the Spirit...I dressed in everything red I could find and went to church in a daze...a Holy daze. You would think with that kind of drama, I would have found just what I was looking for. Not so...instead I discovered another search had begun. I seem to have made yet another step away from the timeless innocence of childhood and closer to the recognition that "something crucial is missing" and that I must continue the search. And again as Buechner says, I "do not know its name or where it is to be found or even if it is to be found at all."


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