2017 Calendar

Cover - 2017 Calendar by Deidre McNamara

Flannery O'Connor

A few years back I purchased the audiobook, “The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage” by Paul Elie. I knew by adding the book to my virtual shopping cart I was committing myself to 22 hours and 39 minutes of Elie’s thoughts on four Catholic writers, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hours since, that I have spent exploring the works of these authors. The hook for me was the Publisher’s summery that stated that these four writers used, as a source of inspiration more than just the Bible… “It is a story about the ways we look to great books and writers to help us make sense of our experience, about the power of literature to change, and to save, our lives.” ©2003 Paul Elie.
Of the four, I knew only of one, Dorothy Day, but the concept that these four writers found faith beyond the words of the Bible intrigued me as I feel God extends beyond the walls of the church and his words are not only contained in the Gospels but in other works of literature and forms of art. Elie’s novel was an excellent read and did inspire me to seek out the works of Merton, Day, O’Connor and Percy. Day was easy. Her writing style was simple and I plowed through two of her books and her biography in quick succession. Of Percy, I read the Movie-goer. It wasn’t a difficult read but It did not inspire me which makes me think I didn’t understand what Percy was trying to say, so I stopped there. The Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton’s work sits on my shelf. I’ve tried and will try again and again till I get it. I know his words are meant to be heard by my ears but the time just isn’t right yet. O’Connor message is as deep as Merton but it is in a format that is easier to swallow. I compare her writing to the parables Jesus spoke.
Flannery O’Connor was a female, southern writer from Georgia. In her short 39 years on this earth she wrote two novels and 32 short stories. O’Connor began writing at the University of Iowa but returned home in 1952 after being diagnosed with Lupus. She spent the next 14 years at the family farm, Andalusa, in Milledgeville, Georgia before her untimely death in 1964. Just one year after I was born. There she wrote and raised Peacocks.
O’Connor’s style was labeled as Southern Gothic, heavy on regional settings and odd characters. But it also reflected her Catholic faith and was rich in morality and ethics. I compare it to a mother adding a little spinach and carrots to a strawberry banana smoothie. The child gets the nutrition of the vegetables but only taste the sweetness of the fruit. O’Connor added a heavy dose of theology in everything she wrote but finding in within the odd little stories she wrote makes for enjoyable reading.
I think I instantly fell in love with her work because it wasn’t politically correct. Her candid way of speaking has, no doubt, resulted her work being banned today from schools everywhere but provides us Southerners, of age, with a breath of fresh air. Her characters spoke like my family did back when I was a child. O’Connor wrote, not of Catholics per-say, but of backwoods preachers and tormented souls injecting a dose of the sacraments, redemption and salvation all the while. She introduced her first novel, Wise Blood saying…“That belief in Christ is to some a matter of life and death has been a stumbling block for readers who would prefer to think of it as a matter of no great consequence.” She felt that the novelist should do what is necessary to shake readers from their slumber, to awaken them to the great and life-giving scandal of the Incarnation.
I have read and continue to read O’Connor’s’ work I have sought out others more educated than I to provide insight and clarification of what I have read. Flannery’s quirky characters have found their way into my art work on more than once and unintentionally slipped into this calendar when I wasn’t looking.
My favorite short story of O’Connor is, The Temple Of The Holy Ghost and my favorite quote of hers happens to come from the same… “She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.” This quote somehow found its way into my photograph of Windsor Ruins …. and this calendar was born. Flannery’s words have seeped into my life and here, I share them with you. You will be reading them out of context, combined with my photographs and birds, always a character in Flannery’s work, and now in mine, so it seems. I chose quotes I thought could stand on their own, ones that had meaning without the full story in the event you have not read O’Connor’s writings. Below, however, I provide a little more information and I encourage you to explore her work if you haven’t already.
I hope you enjoy this calendar and take time to reflect on O’Connor’s words. The title, “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” is not only the title of Elie’s book but the title of one of Flannery’s short stories and references a street sign that reads... “Drive carefully. The life you save may be your own.” that Mr. Shiftlet sees as he drives the back roads to Tuscaloosa. Good advice for us all. Visit my site...www.DMacDzigns.com... to see more of my photographs and artwork.

Flannery O'Connor, Windsor Ruins

1. January - Windsor Ruins / Natchez Trace - Mississippi
A nameless 12 year old girl is watching the country fair in the distance from her bedroom window: She had imagined that what was inside these tents concerned medicine and she had made up her mind to be a doctor when she grew up. She had since changed and decided to be an engineer but as she looked out the window and followed the revolving searchlight as it widened and shortened and wheeled in its arc, she felt that she would have to be much more than just a doctor or an engineer. She would have to be a saint because that was the occupation that included everything you could know; and yet she knew she would never be a saint…She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick. Flannery O’Connor, The Temple of the Holy Ghost.

Flannery O'Connor

2. February - McNamara Home / Vicksburg Mississippi
Hazel Motes, the Preacher of the Church with out Christ in Wise Blood, preaching from atop his “Rat Colored” car: “Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it. Where is there a place for you to be? No place. Nothing outside you can give you any place,” he said. “You needn’t look at the sky because it’s not going to open up and show no place behind it. You needn’t to search for any hole in the ground to look through into somewhere else. You can’t go neither forwards nor backwards into your daddy’s time nor your children’s if you have them. In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got. If there was any Fall, look there, if there was any Redemption, look there, and if you expect any Judgment, look there, because they all three will have to be in your time and your body and where in your time and your body can they be?” Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

Flannery O'Connor

3. March - Abandoned School / Cane River Country Louisiana
The Grandmother and the Misfit (A serial killer) in conversation …
“Jesus!” the old lady cried. “You’ve got good blood! I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people! Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady. I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!”
“Lady,” The Misfit said, looking beyond her far into the woods, “there never was a body that give the undertaker a tip.” ….

Flannery O'Connor

4. April - Kisatchie National Forest / Old Camp Claiborn Army Base - Pollock, Louisiana
Hazel Motes, the preacher of the Church without Christ in Flannery’s first novel, Wise Blood states..
“Faith is what someone knows to be true, whether they believe it or not.”
Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

Flannery O'Connor

5. May – Kisatchie National Forest / Old Camp Claiborn Army Base - Pollock, Louisiana
“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do. What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God. “ ~Flannery O’Connor from The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O'Connor

6. June – Abandoned School / Cane River Country Louisiana
Asbury’s conversation with Father Finn in The Enduring Chill…
“Well you will never learn to be good unless you pray regularly.
“The artist prays by creating,” Asbury ventured.
How do you expect to meet God face to face when you’ve never spoken to Him? How do you expect to get what you don’t ask for? God does not send the Holy Ghost to those who don’t ask for Him. Ask Him to send the Holy Ghost.”
“The Holy Ghost?” Asbury said.
“Are you so ignorant you’ve never heard of the Holy Ghost?” the priest asked.
“Certainly I’ve heard of the Holy Ghost,” Asbury said furiously, “and the Holy Ghost is the last thing I’m looking for!”
“And He may be the last thing you get,” the priest said…Flannery O’Connor, The Enduring Chill

Flannery O'Connor

7. July- Abandoned School / Cane River Country Louisiana
It does not take much to make us realize what fools we are but the little it takes is long in coming. A Prayer Journal ~Flannery O’Connor


Flannery O'Connor

8. August – Kisatchie National Forest - Pollock, Louisiana
Francis Tarwater’s uncle passed away. Francis was too small to put his uncle in the pine box coffin the old man had built for himself. He set to digggin an hole to bury him in saying: “The dead are poor, you can’t be any poorer than dead. He’ll have to take what he gets.” Flannery O’Connor ~ The Violent Bear It Away

Flannery O'Connor

9. September – Abandoned School / Cane River Country Louisiana
Hazel Motes, the preacher of the Church without Christ in Flannery’s first novel, Wise Blood states..
“If you don’t hunt it down and kill it, it will hunt you down and kill you.”
Wise Blood ~ Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O'Connor

10. October – Kisatchie National Forest / Old Camp Claiborn Army Base - Pollock, Louisiana
From 1955 until her death nine years later, Flannery O’Connor maintained a frank, wide-ranging and candid correspondence with Betty Hester, a clerk at an Atlanta-based credit union who had one day written O’Connor out of the blue.

September 6, 1955, To Betty Hester...The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally. Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul.


Flannery O'Connor

11. November – Kisatchie National Forest / Old Camp Claiborn Army Base - Pollock, Louisiana
People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything, because they lack the courage. The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have experience. ~Flannery O’Connor from The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor


Flannery O'Connor

12. December – Abandoned School / Cane River Country Louisiana
“It is better to be young in your failures than old in your successes.”
Flannery O’Connor