We didn’t say grace at our house when I was growing up because my parents were atheists, explains author Anne Lamott.

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I knew even as a little girl that everyone at every table needed blessing and encouragement, but my family didn’t ask for it. Instead, my parents raised glasses of wine to the chef: Cheers. Dig in.

But I had a terrible secret

which was that I believed in God, a divine presence who heard me when I prayed, who stayed close to me in the dark. So at 6 years of age I began to infiltrate religious families like a spy—Mata Hari in [pink] sneakers.

One of my best friends was a Catholic girl

Her boisterous family bowed its collective head and said, “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts…” I was so hungry for these words; it was like a cool breeze, a polite thank-you note to God, the silky magnetic energy of gratitude. I still love that line.”

My two brothers and I all grew up to be middle-aged believers

I’ve been a member of the same Presbyterian church for 27 years. My older brother became a born-again Christian–but don’t ask him to give the blessing [at a holiday dinner], as it can last forever. I adore him, but your food will grow cold. My younger brother is an unconfirmed but freelance Catholic.

So now someone at our holiday tables always ends up saying grace

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We say thank you for the miracle that we have stuck together all these years, in spite of it all; that we have each other’s backs, and hilarious companionship.

We savor these moments out of time, when we are conscious of love’s presence, of Someone’s great abiding generosity to our dear and motley family, these holy moments of gratitude. And that is grace.

Anne Lamott

Excerpts are taken from a column, “Views by Anne Lamott,” November 11, 2012. View entire column here.

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