Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Illness is a Place

I’m reading a wonderful book called “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” by Paul Elie. It is a four-part, simultaneous biography of four great spiritual writers who were also social activists and great thinkers: Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor.

I’m learning so much about these four friends. How fascinating that they corresponded, read each other’s work, acted and interacted on behalf of their Catholic faith, social justice and literature.

One of the gems in last night’s reading is from Elie’s section on Flannery O’Conner who wrote, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and a famous collection of stories called, “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” Elie writes about the late part of O’Connor’s life when she was ill and disabled but writing to make sense of her life even in that. He quotes O’Connor as saying,

“In a sense sickness is a place, more instructive than a long trip to Europe, and it’s always a place where there’s no company, where no body can follow.”

We sometimes talk about illness as a battle or a struggle and here, O’Connor sees sickness also as a place that can be inhabited. Very nice.

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