Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

God's Grace

Aileen Ridings Bennett


A child’s mind often seeks shelter from fear…fear from parents’ scorn…fear from ridicule or failure…fear from the unknown.

As a child, as soon as the dark clouds hooded the sun and the rumble of distant thunder began to edge closer to the earth, my fear began to inch its way into my body, creeping up my spine like a vine.

While reading an excerpt from my novel, The Annie Chase Story, my fear of thunderstorms once again brought back the shelter I sought as a child.

“Lord, get up kids, we’re going to be blown away any minute,” my mother screeched, going from window to window, wringing her hands. “This is a badun’, a real badun’.”

Our little country town tried to hide in the dimples of the surrounding hills, but summer storms found the square, white house, rattling windows with thunder, taking the arms off giant trees. I imagined the Tennessee River lapping at its banks, crawling up the hill towards the house. Mama imagined it also as she went from room to room with the new baby on her hip, calling out to all of us kids. “Get up and put on your clothes and get ready to meet your Maker.” Her fear of storms spilled over onto me. I followed her from room to room, clutching the tail of her dress for comfort.

Mama had this thing going with God and Grace during storms, moaning loudly in a high, trembling voice, “Lord, help us, save us by your Grace.” When the thunder finally rolled out of town and the sky took its lightning back, Mama’s words would always quiet the churning fear in my stomach.

“Saved by Grace,” she would announce.

I liked Grace. In my child’s mind, she was God’s wife. I could see her clearly. Grace had long, kinky blonde hair, and it was naturally curly so she never had to roll it up on rags. Her eyes were the crystal blue color of my brother’s agate taw marble, and she could look straight through you and out the other side. Grace wore huge white feathers as wings. They were tipped in red so God could pick her out from the other angels. Grace was forever busy saving people from storms.

As I grew up, I lost my fear of storms, but each time a dark cloud hoods the sun, and I hear a low rumble of thunder in the distance, Grace returns, and she once again becomes Mrs. God to me.

***

Aileen Ridings Bennett is a “dyed-in-the-wool Southerner.” Born in a small town in Tennessee, she moved to Oak Ridge, growing up in a strange and secret town and era, she proclaims. She has written a column titled "Life, Love and Laughter." Aileen studied creative writing under Arizola Magnenat, a published author and journalist. Her first novel, The Annie Chase Story, was released in October, 2005 by Behler Publishing Company.

© Aileen Ridings Bennett

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012