(This story was written for and originally appeared in The Southern Cross.)
Savannah-born writer Flannery O’Connor was 21 years old and very unsure of herself while she was off at college in 1946. She questioned things. She prayed. She kept a journal.
But unlike other unsure young adults, the Georgia Catholic would rise to become one of the most celebrated writers of the last century. And her questions, prayers and journals would be picked over like Thanksgiving leftovers.
A chorus of analysis followed December’s publication of her newly found prayer journal. The slim volume reveals her nightly, whispered relationship with God.
“Please help me to get down under things and find where you are,” O’Connor prayed.
Savannah Bishop Emeritus J. Kevin Boland read through the intimate handwritten supplications to learn how they might help others who are unsure in their own faith.
“Like, ‘God, you’re underneath all I want to do and I need to find you,’” Boland added.
He offered his thoughts on the book at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home in May.
“Her prayer journal is an insightful document that points out that prayer is an essential component of all of our journeys,” he said.
He also put the document into historical context. He concluded that the Baltimore Catechism, widely used until the 1960’s, informed her prayers.
“I do not want it to be for fear that keeps me in the church,” O’Connor prayed.
And he underscored O’Connor’s reputation as a “deeply meditative” thinker and a “complex and convoluted” soul deeply enriched by faith.
But he did have one reservation.
“Would it have been better if this manuscript had never been found?” he asked. “It was her relationship. It was not ours.”
Open Those Bright Eyes” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0