short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Sunday, August 23, 2009


Any time I thought about the word, grace, or even the concept, the story of Aunt Grace's experience at an annual community baked bean dinner in East Gloucester many years ago came immediately to mind. Aunt Grace worked in the kitchen and served the tables. With the entire town showing up, as usual, the serving crew was quite busy getting everyone seated and served. Shorthanded, the crew heaved a sigh of relief when all the beans were on all the tables and all the people were seated behind their plates. They went into the kitchen to catch their breath.

Right about then one of the local pastors stood up and faced the room. "Let us all say grace," he intoned in his pastor's voice that carried beyond the door of the kitchen. Not all the words were clear behind the closed door, but Aunt Grace did hear the word, grace and thought she was being paged.

Perhaps a bit annoyed at what she thought was yet another request, Aunt Grace, with somewhat less than courteous patience, jumped out into the dining room, where all were suddenly looking right at her since the pastor was standing in front of the room near the kitchen door.

"What the heck do you want now?" she asked impatiently of the startled crowd. There is no one in East Gloucester who attended that baked bean supper who does not remember Aunt Grace's question.

So, every time I heard the word, grace, I thought of Aunt Grace. As a result, I could not take grace seriously. Especially not like the Christian woman sitting across from me did.


This excerpt comes from my book, Blest Atheist (MSI Press, copyright 2009), prior to copyediting and publication. There are some minor variations between this version and the final print version. The book is essentially my conversion story with all the gory and glorious details.


  1. Too fuuny...I wish I had been there. You gotta like Aunt Grace. What I want to know is did Aunt Grace get an answer?

  2. I don't remember. I was a pretty small child at the time. I remember kind of a shocked silence, then some laughter. I think the pastor said something. (Too bad memory deteriorates with time...)

  3. I love this story! Thanks for sharing it.


About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.