I missed commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Flannery O’Connor on August 3.
Flannery O’Connor’s novels and short stories are not always the easiest pieces to read and understand, as she often portrays the presence of grace and sin with what, to my prejudiced eye, are bizarre characters. But her works are worthy of study.
Many years ago a friend (I think it was Jim Forest) introduced me to her collection of letters, The Habit of Being, letter which give us a privileged look into the spiritual and intellectual life of this extraordinary woman. They are well worth a read, not once, but several times.
Last year some prayers she wrote early in her life – when she was in Iowa City – were published as A Prayer Journal.
I began reading the book this afternoon while waiting for a doctor’s appointment. I could not get past these two paragraphs on page 3:
Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing.
I do not know You God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.
Help me push myself aside!