Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Long Loneliness (1-25)

I began Dorothy Day's work as my next entry working through Renovare's 100 Devotional Classics.

The first thing that jumped out at me is that Day can flat out write. After working through Kierkegaard, Augustine, Kempis, and Newman, I began to feel like my capacity for sticking with the spiritual insight through the difficult prose was not as high as I hoped.

Part of that difficulty is no doubt a stylistic one caused by differences in culture and time period; it is not a reflection on the abiliies of the writers.

For example, when Day writes:

Going to confession is hard--hard when you have sins to confess, hard when you haven't, and you rack your brain for even the beginnings of sins against charity, chastity, sins of detraction, sloth or gluttony. You do not want to make too much of your constant imperfections and venial sins, but you want to drag them out to the light of day as the first step in getting rid of them. The just man falls seven times daily.

it helps me understand confession not just as a sacrament but as a spiritual growth exercise.

I also appreciate her ability to integrate a social concern into her writing without coming across as merely political with a religious sheen:

Another thing I remember about California was the joy of doing good, of sharing whatever we had with others after the earthquake, an event wheich threw us out of our complacent happiness into a world of castrophe.

"Castrophe" is the strongest word here, but it is "complacent happiness" that sends ripples most deep.

I also appreciated her claim that "I believed and yet was afraid of nothingness" (20). Is this a 20th century thing, I wonder? The believer who fears not hell, but--if I am wrong--sould annhilation/non-existence?

Can't say too much about it, but this passage says a lot about the ability of formative experiences and lessons to shape our subsequent lives:

We had never had to do without a servant before, and the household tasks, the washing and the cooking, were too much for my mother, who after her four children had a series of miscarriages. I took my dishwashing very seriously and I remember scouring faucets until they shone. The work grew wearisome of course; it did not always have the aspect of a game. But it had to be done, and after some months of it I was well used to doing my share.

I'm looking forward to reading more.

No comments: