It's a journal of O'Connor's ardent prayers to God. She prays that God will give her the grace to love God zealously and think of God at all times, rather than getting swept up and distracted by the glamour of the quotidian life and only giving pause for God during times of reading (people like Léon Bloy) and writing.
I find in O'Connor's journal echoes of my own evolving pleas to God. I remember writing my own longing-filled prayers to God, prayers that God would help me become my best and most talented, giving self (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, as I learned to say from the Jesuits).
Looking back on the earliest years of my adult life, I see how open everything was--the whole world was at my fingertips, and all I had to do was pursue my interests with my whole heart and I would do well.
It was both exciting and hard on me when I realized, at the age of 19, that I was being called by God to ordained ministry. I remember telling my pastor this, letting him know that I thought I would pursue that call in the Episcopal Church. He, whose opinion I esteemed above virtually all others, warned me that to enter a different church was to take on a whole different set of church problems. I realized then that I wanted to stay in my own church and help transform it into what it was supposed to be: a beacon of Christ's radical message of hospitality and love.
I did a year of volunteer work with the Missionary Cenacle Volunteers with that in my heart. I didn't want to become the sort of theologian who was completely detached from the world of real people encountering God in the midst of genuine (i.e. non-academic) difficulties. Then, after earning my Master's degree, I did what any bright, theologically inclined woman in the Roman Catholic church might do--I went on for doctoral work, assuming that that would lead me to a position in which I could be positively and transformatively influential among both lay people and clergy within the Roman Catholic Church.
I went almost all the way there, and then God threw a kink in my plans. Her name is Anastasia, and she just turned three in October.
Then came another kink. Her name is Miriam, and she's a little over half a year old.
Then came another, in the form of my husband's new job, which sent us to the desert where neither of us ever thought we would move.
And if my devotion to the Roman Catholic Church hadn't been so strong for so long, I might never have become disenchanted enough with its backward regression to leave it. If I hadn't been so ready to leave it, I might never have discovered St. Augustine's of Tempe, which has become as much my spiritual home as any church ever has been.
I still shake my head at what I've gotten myself into over the last fifteen years. In contrast to my college years, I find myself prepared to let God let me where she will, while continuing to exercise my strengths and nourish into health my weaknesses. I am finally in a place in my life where I am safe, and Sisyphean struggling is no longer my game--bravery and radical acceptance of self and the Holy Other constitute the new game.
Let's play, God.