I’ve been struggling for a while to finish the book The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos… I don’t quite know why it has taken so long to pick it up again. It seemed that I was always leaving it for something that seemed more exciting or easier so in the end I stopped reading it. I think it may be because this book contains much to reflect on about both the world and faith. It is deeply counter cultural and so very much not of the 21st century…. and that in itself is a challenge
But I am moved to share the ending where the writer speaks of the strange mistrust that one can have about oneself. By the end of the book he feels that has gone and that the conflict is done. He writes,’ I am reconciled to myself, to the poor shell of me.’
He goes on to say how easy it is to hate oneself and that true grace is to forget.
‘Yet if pride could die in us, the supreme grace would be to love oneself in all simplicity – as one would love any one of those who themselves have suffered and loved in Christ.’
This seems so similar to the achievement sometimes discussed in psychoanalytic work of feeling compassion for oneself – a genuine compassion not self-pity or narcissistic melancholy but rather an understanding and appreciation of who one is despite everything.