Monday, February 20, 2012

Journaling...Miss Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan (later Mrs. Sarah Dawson) was 19 years of age when The War Between the States broke out.  Her war-time journaling lucidly portrays the thoughts and experiences of an well-educated, middle-class lady with a Christian heritage caught up in the whirlwind of social, political, familial and moral dilemmas of her times.  With sharp wit and noble (though sometimes confused) ideals she summarily lays to rest some of the Scarlet O'Hara libels stamped upon southern women and frequently unconsciously demonstrates the sturdiness of character with which so many of her peers were blessed through courageous endurance of the most terrible privations.
Journaling is maligned by modern-day stereotypes.  The lugubrious whining and trite tittle-tattle so often associated with that familiar "Dear Diary" has cheapened the real value of recording daily life.  Faux metallic locks and keys on pink, be-dazzled volumes teach us the acceptable perspective on "my diary": a preoccupation with me-ism, self-service and a good excuse to "privately" exude the trash of others and the malicious and spiteful contents of one's own heart on a page and sell it to ourselves as a literary work.  Online social circles facilitate the condensing of real incidents into one-phrase nothings and the draining of the life-blood of true self-examination and coherent thought from the facts. A general carelessness for meaningful perspective on the every-day work of living yields a wide-spread lack of confidence in commenting intelligently on any topic.
Whether we don't know how to begin communicating, don't wish to associate with the stereotype, are afraid to keep a record of our failings along with our triumphs, or simply don't take the time, most of us have lost the art of journaling.
No diarist can be perfect, so excuses of imperfection simply won't suffice.  (Take Bach's word for it!)  Were we to regain heretofore cultivated habits of reflection and communication, they would, in and of themselves, serve little purpose.  However, commingled with a powerful conviction of the sovereign nature of God's hand in history, they comprise the skills necessary to recognize and record His handiwork in our personal and social lives. 
Miss Morgan was gifted with the courage and foresight to pass down a record of the work of God in her times along with her fears and human frailty. The weaknesses that likely inspired caricatures like Scarlet O'Hara are undisguised, and the lack of real personal and Christian conviction in some areas renders her perspective less noble and her tongue unbecomingly sharp.  In spite of this, her diary stands as a testament to what remained of Christian womanhood in her times, a warning to society and a challenge to the individual.  The invaluable heritage we receive from her generation is our own to give to the coming generations, if we are her daughters in this respect and do likewise.