That joyous sense of being not my own

by Dorothy Day

View Author Profile

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts to Letters to the Editor. Learn more

The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, ed. Robert Ellsberg (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2008; abridged paperback: New York: Doubleday, 2011).

April 21, 1965
Awoke at 5:30. Usual expression over failures, inefficiency, incapacity to cope. Dom Hubert von Zeller’s book, Approach to Calvary, invaluable, teaching one to accept this discouragement which he says will increase with age. But I must learn to contain myself, to do my own work which is writing, correspondence, and the constant study, meditating on both natural and supernatural life. But women, we see the burdens of others, and how little one can do to lighten them. No matter how we try to change things, clean things up, make order, it essentially remains the same. It is hard to keep from heaviness of heart. One must just keep going and my work is to write and I am neglecting it. New resolutions. Will I ever learn that it is only myself I can work on and so much needs doing there.

January 1966
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard what God hath prepared for those who love Him.” But do I love Him? The only test is am I willing to sacrifice present happiness and present love for Him? I have done it once, and thereby kept them. The thing is, one must keep doing it, day after day, beginning over and over, to count all things but dross compared to the life of the spirit which alone is able to bring joy, overcome fear -- “Love casts out fear.” “I know that my redeemer liveth, and in my flesh I shall see God my Savior ... I believe -- help Thou my unbelief.” Most of the time I am as sure of these things as I am of my own life. And as for those periods of desert and doubt, there is so much in the line of inescapable duty that one can work one’s way thru them.

God respects man and gives him the tremendous gift of freedom, not wishing the love of a slave. He allows man even to sin, tho he knows man will turn as to a parent and blame Him, “Why am I born? Why did He let this happen to me?” I started thinking of this yesterday, that if God respects man and his freedom, so must I respect Him, by not judging -- by leaving him to God, who alone knows and understands him, whom He has created. We must not judge, but always try to love.

June, 16, 1966
Woke this a.m. with the feeling very strong -- I belong to Someone to whom I owe devotion. Recalled early love and that joyous sense of being not my own, but of belonging to someone who loved me completely.

January 6. Epiphany
Wept all morning over state of world and the house. People talk so much about the meaning of life and the work is to grow in love, love of God our destination, and love of neighbor, our first step, our continuing step, our right road in that direction. Love means answering the mail that comes in -- and there is fearful amount of it. That person in the hospital, that person suffering a breakdown of nerves, the person lonely; far-off, watching for the mailman each day. It means loving attention to those around us, the youngest and the oldest (the drunk and the sober).

[These diary entries come from The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, edited by Robert Ellsberg (Marquette University Press). The selections were made by Robert Ellsberg. The paperback edition will be available in October.]

SIGN UP NOW to receive an e-email alert each week directing you to NCR's Spiritual Reflections column. Throughout 2011, we are offering reflections from a variety of voices.

Want to know more about the Catholic Worker Movement? This Web site is a good place to start.

Visit Marquette University Press to order The Duty of Delight.

Latest News


1x per dayDaily Newsletters
1x per weekWeekly Newsletters
2x WeeklyBiweekly Newsletters