The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, Edited by Robert Ellsberg
669 pages, ISBN: 978-0-87462-023-8, Marquette University Press, 2008
In this large gathering of Dorothy Day’s daily personal journaling, we are given the gift of careful recollections, on things small and great in Dorothy’s life for over four decades. In our age of sound bytes and ever shortened attention spans, Dorothy welcomes us back to a way of life that values every moment as precious and every other life as important. Dorothy’s lens on life and relationships is truly unique. She struggles out loud with her sins, questioning herself and her intentions, and relying in the end on the mercy of God as her solace.
Reading Dorothy’s diaries draws me into the present, into things that are truly important, but that I’d forgotten to value, like the sounds of my surroundings, the neighborhood outside my window, the food I eat, the clothes I wear, the beauty in the sounds my children make (which often annoy me). Dorothy pays special attention to what I used to consider the small things in life. Reading her diary gives me a peek into her daily habitus, the routine in which she chose to honor God. She makes this habitus beautiful by honoring it. She honors the people she shares her life with, she honors the provisions she has, but most of all she honors God with her telling. If, as Josef Pieper wrote, love is acknowledging the other’s being, Dorothy Day demonstrates a love for all she is given, and this makes her many years of notes instructive indeed!