The following is from his book "Wishful Thinking".
I'd just like to say this first: I grew up in a Christian world where the sacraments were not heavily celebrated. Even communion was given in a more casual way than traditional Christianity would have it. It seems as if the sacraments carried a ritualistic feeling of dead demands. I grew up around people who had an attitude of freedom...freedom from the old religious rituals that feel void of meaning. I'm not bashing this more contemporary view...I understand the reasoning...but I guess I wonder what we are missing when we walk away from this sacramental designation.
Here's what Buechner says:
A sacrament is when something holy happens. It is transparent time, time which you can see through to something deep inside time. Generally speaking, Protestants have two official sacraments (the Lord's Supper, Baptism) and Roman Catholics these two plus five others (Confirmation, Penance, Extreme Unction, Ordination, and Matrimony). In other words, at such milestone moments as seeing a baby baptized or being baptized yourself, confessing your sins, getting married, dying, you are apt to catch a glimpse of the almost unbearable preciousness and mystery of life. Needless to say, church isn't the only place where the holy happens. Sacramental moments can occur at any moment, any place, and to anybody. Watching something get born. Making love. A high school graduation. Somebody coming to see you when you are sick. A meal with people you love. Looking into a stranger's eyes and finding out he's not a stranger. If we weren't blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental.
In an article called "The Sacramental Imagination" by David Wygmans, this whole idea of respecting and responding to things that are sacred is expanded. I would copy the entire article for you...but then I know you wouldn't read it because it's too long :-) But he ends his article with a beautiful paragraph of summary.
The church has two (or seven) sacraments that it celebrates by way of living out on a small scale the universal sacramentality of life. We should celebrate the sacraments in ways that impart as much as possible a sacramental imagination, giving both vision and permission to those who partake as well as those who stand far off and observe. In this way, the church's ritual will say "We celebrate specific promises of God here in these rituals. We use normal, everyday elements because God comes to us in the normal and the everyday. And God's promises are all encompassing. 'I will be with you'. Who can ask for more of the sacred in the everyday than that? Therefore, all of life can be a rite by which we receive reminder and assurance of God's promises. We hold these things used today in these sacraments as sacred not because of some special control we have over them but because all of life is sacred. As you go from here, look for the presence of God in all that you come across, in all that comes to you. Live in these sacraments here in this sacred space so that you can go out and live sacramentally in all of your life, in the whole sacred cosmos.
Okay, so why does this have meaning for me? Why did I post this on my blog? What can we draw from it?
-If we recognize that God is with us always, and that this whole world is a sacred place created by him, then we can see that all of our encounters are encounters with more than just "stuff". When we see something beautiful in people, or art, or expression, or nature...that is a sacred thing! That beauty is there to remind us that there is something bigger and more powerful and more creative. That awe, is there to inspire us! Even so, when we maintain our schedules of habit, when we go to church, sing songs, take communion, volunteer, listen to people, eat together...These things that sometimes can seem mundane, are chances for us to recognize that all moments can be moments where we recognize God. As we experience our humanity, we should always connect that with the divine. Well...that's MY opinion anyway.