Grace Warned Me
Grace told me that Taiwan is a food paradise. Grace should know. Although she now resides in Warsaw, Poland, which is where I met her, at St. Paul’s English Speaking Parish, Grace comes from Taiwan. I never knew this, of course, until Grace came up to my husband after Mass one Sunday during which our parish priest had announced my imminent departure for Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where I was off to teach 4th grade for two years.
I hadn’t known Grace was Taiwanese. I knew very little about her except that she was just about the bravest person I had ever seen in action.
I’m not sure my husband was in the congregation the day Grace converted to Catholicism. I’m not even sure what the ceremony is called, and I’m pretty sure that during a lifetime of church attendance, I’ve witnessed only one conversion: Grace’s.
I grew up in a town where most people I knew were either Irish-American or Italian American, and all were Catholic. In short: There were no people to convert.
Anyway, back to Grace’s conversion. Grace weighs, about 80 pounds, if that. Her English, at the time of her conversion, was at a beginner’s level. Regardless, part of the ceremony included her reciting, by heart, at least one very long prayer–perhaps it was the Creed– a prayer I’ve said my entire life but could not, even at age 53, recite from memory, anymore than I could stand on my head.
Grace, however, all 80 pounds of her, recited the Creed–every word of it, from memory– in a barely audible voice, as her body visibly trembled. She did this in front of well over 100 parishioners.
Grace didn’t miss a word. Even though I couldn’t recite it myself without an occasional glance at a missalette, I could detect a mistake a mile away.
Grace made no mistakes. If her recitation wasn’t the Holy Spirit in action, I’m not sure what is.
Well more than a year after Grace’s conversion, when I was about to depart Warsaw for Kaohsiung, Grace bounded over to me to tell me that she was from Taiwan. Tiny Grace told me: “It’s a paradise. A food paradise.”
And so it is. My intention is to provide a window now and again.