Daily Word of Grace # 68 (June 18, 2020)

One of my favorite writers is the acclaimed Southern Gothic master Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) from Milledgeville, Georgia, where she lived at Andalusia Farm the last twelve years of her life.  Several years ago I visited Andalusia Farm, and you can still see much of her furniture and belongings, including the desk at which she wrote and the crutches she needed her final years as her battle with lupus (a battle that ultimately proved too strong for her) intensified.  Her stories are often dark, and on the surface can seem fatalistic or nihilistic, but beneath the surface is the theme of grace for her many characters who were seriously flawed in one way or another, like all of us.  In a letter dated April 4, 1958 she wrote, “Part of the difficulty of all this is that you write for an audience who doesn’t know what grace is and don’t recognize it when they see it.  All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless, brutal, etc.” (O’Connor: Collected Works 1067).  Sometimes each of us, like O’Connor’s audience, “doesn’t know what grace is and don’t recognize it when they see it.”  Scripture tells us that in Jesus Christ the Son of God “we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16), grace that we may not understand or recognize, but grace nonetheless.  God’s grace, God’s one-way unconditional love, remains true and steadfast regardless of our ability to understand or recognize it, regardless of the serious flaws in our lives, regardless of the ailments in our lives for which we too in one way or another need crutches.  God’s grace softens our heart when it is hard, gives us hope when we are hopeless, and is gentle in a world that is often brutal—and when it comes to our salvation, God’s grace will eventually prove to be the central theme in our lives.

Love and Prayers,