My idea of literature in high school was reading Cliff’s Notes between memorizing show tune lyrics for whatever local theatre production I was participating in.(I was an oh so serious actor of course.) It was a good balance, I believed, you know, between Hemingway and Rogers and Hammerstein. I hit the jack pot when I discovered my mother’s stash of Cliff’s Notes from the 1960s. She had even personalized them with her signature, “Dean Fant”(in perfect penmanship) and underlined all the necessary information. Sure, I read enough for the class discussions, weekly reading quizzes and such, but to be perfectly frank, my mind was far from Bronte and Chopin. I was fantasizing about how a chubby white girl could some how pull off the role Maria of in Westside Story.
I always admired though, my literary friends, who, even as silly high school girls, were captivated and enriched by our assigned class reading. Those ‘literary friends’ I speak of, turned out to be my best friends. In college, I was in awe of the amount of reading these English majors could do in one semester. While most of our conversations in our college apartment had little to do with our actual courses and more to do with our weekly viewing of whatever MTV show we were obsessed with at the time(the standard being Real World/Road Rules challenges and for a short time The Osbournes—OBSESSED), I do remember my ears perking up when they spoke of Flannery O’Connor. Perhaps it was because I could contribute(just a little) because I had read a couple of her short stories in high school(no Cliff’s Notes available), and perhaps even more, it is almost impossible to be a girl raised in the “religious” South and NOT appreciate her incredible AND SPOT ON observations of the culture.
I can’t say that this intrigue lead to being an O’Connor scholar. In fact, I really did not think too much more about her until just several months ago. During a sermon, my pastor shared with the congregation several of her quotes. However, these were not quotes from her fiction work. These were actual prayers she wrote in a prayer journal. Her journal, written as a college student, had recently been published as a book. This southern Georgia college student’s prayers to God were so real, so raw, and so honest, that I could not think of much more that day. Amazon Prime had that pretty little raw book at my home in two days.
Soooo….per usual, I set it right on top of all my other books I just HAD to have(RIGHT NOW) AND…well….LIFE…HAPPENED…..
This little book made its way with me during the last month, to my childhood home where I am currently staying with my mother. I finally picked it up last night.
Thank you Brian Habig for being the reason I know this journal exist.
Thank you Flannery O’Connor for helping me to pray.
Below are some portions:
"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.
I do not mean to deny traditional prayers I have said all my life; but I have been saying them and not feeling them. My attention is always very fugitive. This way I have it every instant. I can feel a warmth of love heating me when I think and write this to You.
….Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for your story.”
And my favorite, “Help me to feel that I will give up every earthly thing for this. I do not mean becoming a nun.”—Flannery O’Connor.
Keep talking to God, sweet friends. Just do it.