W is for Wound.
Flannery O’Connor said, “Grace must wound before it can heal.”
I scribbled those words in my notes during one Flannery O talk given by Dr. Ralph Wood at Laity Lodge.
If I can grasp that concept, I think I’ll be able to understand her writing more.
Jonathan Rogers looked at me during one session and said, “You don’t have to like Flannery O’Connor.”
I know. But I want to.
I really do.
I want to wrap my mind around this peacock-loving, slant-writing, perfect-word-choosing writer.
I want to be able to read one her stories where someone is gored by a bull or where a grandfather kills his granddaughter, I want to read one of those stories that leaves me feeling like I’ve been sucker-punched, and be able to say, “Ah, I’ve been wounded so that I can experience the grace of this story.”
Flannery O’Connor said, “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 and brutal.”
Yes, that’s it, Flannery. That’s me.
I see the hardness and hopelessness and brutality, and I miss the grace.
I said something to Jonathan about Judgement Day, the story that did me in on Flannery O. It’s the story of an old man from Georgia brought by his daughter to live with her in New York City. He wants to go home but dies in a horrible death in New York.
“I’m stuck with this image of a man with his head stuffed in the spokes of the railing. It’s an awful image,” I told him.
“Yes,” JR agreed, “but he got to go home.”
In the end the daughter brought her father’s body back to Georgia.
Was she the one wounded?
Was she the one who experienced grace?
See what I mean about not understanding Flannery?
And yet if grace were easy to understand, somehow it would seem cheaper.
So wound me, grace, so I can heal, and be more aware of the amazing power You hold.
Help me learn to extend that same grace, then, to others.