I’ve recently had the treat of reading a novel by Frederick Buechner.
You don’t have to be a longtime patron of Foolish Knight to know that I am something of a Buechner (pronounced beek-ner) aficionado and since I don’t often get the opportunity to read his stories I’m grateful for every chance I do get. The particular yarn I’ve just finished, which is possibly Frederick Buechner’s most recommendable, is the delightful fairy tale, On the Road With the Archangel. It is a first-person narrative based upon the Apocryphal Book of Tobit.
At least I call it a fairy tale. The reason being that its elements; a blind man, cunning animals, a journey for treasure, angels, a courageous hero, ill fated bridegrooms and a peculiarly large and hungry fish remind me of the folk tales and brothers Grimm stories I have read. This is certainly woven from the same stuff those craftsmen used.
The man from whom the ancient book derives its title is a Jew who (along with a good many other Jews) has been taken captive by the Assyrians to their capital city of Nineveh (yes that Nineveh). The story follows the many deeds and misdeeds of Tobit and his son Tobias as told by the archangel Raphael.
It's Raphael's charge to bring into the presence of the Almighty the praises and petitions of “all who pray and of those who don’t even know that they’re praying”. Two prayers in particular catch his attention; one of Tobit and another of a young girl both wanting to die to be released from there shame. When the prayers are received Raphael is sent to earth to “set things right”. I won’t say any more than that for fear of spoiling what there is of this little story to spoil.
I will only say that Frederick Buechner continues to show that when it comes to storytellers he is one of the most thoughtful--and entertaining--around.