O'Connor wrote the stories in Everything That Rises Must Converge while dying and it was published in 1965, after she was gone. The title story is about this hipster who's embarrassed by his mom, who tries to give a nickel to this black kid on the bus. In all his humanist glory, the guy freaks out on her and ends up looking about a thousand times more racist than his mom -- who was just trying to be nice, in her ignorant way, and had no idea of the historical weight behind her actions, or the inferences toward the boy's mother -- which leads to the same O'Connor place as always, which is that the story telescopes and implicates you: Mom's pretty racist, son's meta-racist, so what does that make you and me?
The title of the story, and thus the book, comes from de Chardin: "Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge."
One definition of the word "parallel" is two lines that only meet in infinity: Greater consciousness and greater love, no matter their vector, eventually arrive at de Chardin's omega point: That place some of us call heaven, where all good deeds are the same good deed. Where every summer is the same summer. Where no kindness, even the ones done in secret, goes unmarked. Where all the love you've ever given, and all the love you've ever received, gather in the sun to dance. Brighter than anything.
Everything that rises, every kindness of intention and thoughtful gift and helpful word, no matter how unnoticed they pass by, from the angle that you're looking, rises to meet and to converge. Where kindness and her sister, gratitude, meet, and where they become one glorious, and wonderful, and endless thing we don't get to have a name for yet. Where beestings and vision boards and mopped floors and cuckoo clocks and loaned books and thank you notes -- even when we're too young, or small, or hurting, to be thankful -- are all drops in an infinite ocean, that never runs dry.
Sean compares O'Connor's work -- "Southern Gothic Absurd: High Comedy, Low Tragedy and the Grotesque" -- to his relationship with Rebecca. He'll sit and read until it passes. Marlene looks at the cuckoo clock and remembers to write her name in the book.