Freeing Myself from Grad School, I Rediscover Flannery O’Connor and the Medieval Mystics
I try to use my master’s thesis as a way to find myself in women’s writing—the mystics, Flannery—but, ultimately, I fail.
Revelations of Divine Love Book of Margery Kempe
Back in my small room in Brooklyn, I often think of Julian, who lived as an anchoress in Norwich. Anchoresses lived, confined, in a small room connected to the side of a church. She would have had two windows—one connected to the church through which she could receive food and confess her sins, and another facing the outside, so she could provide spiritual guidance to her community. My small room has a window that faced an alley.
I write about Flannery O’Connor, that modern mystic, whose characters loved God so much they became mutilated, disfigured, and deformed. Flannery O’Connor writes, “in some medieval paintings . . . the martyr’s limbs are being sawed off and his expression says he is being deprived of nothing essential.” Flannery, who walks around on her farm among the peacocks, metal braces supporting her body, writes, “I do not know you God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.”
A Mirror of Simple Souls.
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I tried to put the institution of religion aside to better understand God, but the two were so inextricably linked where I grew up, it felt impossible.
How do we pass the time while traveling from Point A to Point B? What stories do we tell one another, and how do those stories connect?
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“When the missionaries came with their Good News, they also declared that what we’d had before was bad.”