Today is one of mixed emotions out on the farm, as we mark Flannery's 91st birthday on a day of spiritual significance: Good Friday. I'd like to think that, were she around to celebrate her 91st with us, Flannery would look at the passing of another year with a sardonic comment and a nice helping of Coke and coffee. The date also is at the height of a busy season on the farm, between planting and the mating season of the beloved birds. I would imagine, too, a birthday celebration would be a welcome break from the business of farming.
Someone with such an eye for the eternal soul would look at a birthday as but a drop in the bucket, and this one especially, since it would no doubt entail a service at Sacred Heart Catholic Church downtown. I, too, have attended my share of Protestant Good Friday services both here in Milledgeville and at home in Woodbury. Traditionally, Good Friday would be marked with a fast; one wonders how this would coincide with birthday celebrations. Indeed, the holiday is a quite solemn marker of, as David Ulin put it for the LA Times a year ago, our passage through a fallen world, one that Flannery’s fiction describes in close detail. I find myself caught in the middle of the celebration of Flannery the person and the spiritual gravity of the holiday. But Sunday is coming, and then the solemnity of today will turn to gratitude and celebration.
And in that spirit of thankfulness I mark Flannery’s birthday here on Good Friday—in gratitude for the stories that describe both Southern history and piety in a new and startling fashion, for Andalusia that offers me the chance to get to know like-minded folks from all over the world, and for the stroke of good fortune that allows me to live in a place where the two can come together. Happy birthday, Flannery, and thank you.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Milledgeville, GA
Daniel Wilkinson is a Visitor Services Assistant and Bon Vivant at Andalusia Farm