My husband came home from the bookstore the other day with a small gift for me, Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal, which was recently published. (Coincidentally, he came home with it the same day my friend Gerry sent me an e-mail telling me about the book.) Recently discovered among her papers in Georgia, the journal was written between 1946 and 1947, while O’Connor was a student at the University of Iowa.
The journal reveals not only O’Connor’s literary ambitions, but the depth of her relationship with, and her yearning for, God.
The journal opens with an undated entry of honest admission: “Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to.” Why? Her explanation is beautiful and poetic; she tells God:
You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and myself 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.
O’Connor’s prayer is a good one, one we might all pray: “I do not know You God because I am in the way. Please help me push myself aside.” Help me push my small egoic self aside so that I can see you. So that I can see you in me and in all things.