Faith on Friday: Circling Faith with Flannery and Facebook Friends

imaginary-friends-cartoonIf you’re on Facebook, you probably already read about my disposal exploding Wednesday afternoon—just as I was finishing up cooking a meal for a friend who had surgery. This has happened before, but with my neck and ankle still healing, I knew I shouldn’t get on my hands and knees and lean up under the sink to clean up the mess. So, I decided to put a picture on Facebook, and lo and behold, a neighbor saw my plight and came over to clean up the mess! Sweet Rachel Rieves and I had only met once, at her daughter’s wedding last year. But because of Facebook, she knew about my situation and stepped in like a life-long friend.

And then the next day, another friend came by to purchase three copies of Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, to give as gifts! She had heard from someone else that I had a few copies that didn’t sell at the library’s Bookstock event a few weeks ago. I was honored to inscribe them for her. It’s exciting that a book like this, which came out a year and a half ago, is having such an ongoing life. We will even have a panel at the Louisiana Book Festival on November 2!

oconnor_crutchesAnother dear friend, Charli Riggle—who used to live in Memphis but now lives outside Seattle, Washington—sends me links on Facebook to things she knows I’d love to read. Yesterday she sent me a link to this interesting blog post, “The Mean Grace of Flannery O’Connor.” She knows I’m an O’Connor fan, and this piece was really good. A sample:

The work of Flannery O’Connor could be harsh, violent and discomfiting. And yet it is also thick with truth, grace and redemption…. to those willing to consider her work more deeply, powerful themes of deeply religious truths become apparent. Perhaps the greatest and most pervasive of these truths in Flannery’s stories is the pain, suffering and “meanness” that often accompanies the beautiful grace of God.

The author goes on to point out that O’Connor had the “right” to write about suffering because of her own painful experience with lupus, of which she died at age 39. I’m not sure one must experience something in order to write about it, but I do believe our life experiences inform our writing.

HERTHEOPH-01Having moved back upstairs (just yesterday!) to sleep in the bedroom I share with my husband, after three months in a hospital bed downstairs in my office, I re-discovered the wonderful little book of quotes and stories about the lives of the saints that we keep in our icon corner at the top of the stairs. I’ll close out today’s Faith on Friday smorgasbord with these words on prayer. Prayer is something I’ve embraced a bit more since my accident, which has definitely increased my faith. But I’ve already noticed that the stronger and more mobile I get, the less inclined I am to prayer. When I could only lie in bed all day, struggling with pain and discomfort and boredom and anxiety, it was more natural to turn my heart towards God. Now it’s easier to turn towards pleasurable activities. Not that the two are at odds with one another. It’s just that I know I need to tend to my soul first, and then partake of God’s blessings with a thankful heart. “Real” prayer is hard work. Here are some words from St. Theophan that really help:

So, morning or evening, immediately before you begin to repeat your prayers, stand awhile, sit for a while, or walk a little and try to steady your mind and turn it away from all worldly activities and objects. After this, think who He is to whom you turn in prayer, then recollect who you are; who it is who is about to start this invocation to Him in prayer. Do this in such a way as to waken in your heart a feeling of humility and reverent awe that you are standing in the presence of God.

Amen. Have a great weekend, everyone!

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