Well, it did involve sitting around in a circle...

What was Grandma’s ritual that wasn’t quite as bad as sacrificing a lamb?

Most families after desert after supper. Not the Wack-a-Doodles.

We (a few pious adults and kids not quick enough to scram) formed a circle and Grandma distributed her stash of Bibles, keeping a fancy gold-leaf version for herself. I think it’s the one Moses carried when toting the stone tablets gave him too many lower back and knee problems.

Grandma selected an Old Testament Book and Chapter from her fragile tome.  One by one, each person around the circle was assigned a Verse to read aloud until the Chapter was done.

She would have approved.

Grandma sat in a chair with her fancy old Bible while we were on the floor with our plain Bibles, Verses assigned.  We were supposed to read along, absorbing the full meaning of each Verse.  I silently rehearsed my Verse, ignoring all others. The only thing I learned was that people who wrote the Bible spoke really bad English and liked to scare people.

Take the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 10.

Grandma began, “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.”  Grandma read her Verse as lyrically as a sonnet. It sounded beautiful because her heart was all over those words.

That resembles Grandma's happy face.

An uncle continued eloquently with Verse 2, “And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”  He, too, virtually sang the Verse in perfect, tender meter.  So what if he was lilting on about fiery death at the hands of his loving God?

I counted people and Verses and calculated my Verse (6), “And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.” I was 10 and had to read that. Out loud. On a full stomach.

I would have gotten a big fat “F” from my English teacher for writing a sentence like that. Was that even a sentence? Were those even legitimate human names? Then there was the matter of alien words: rend, bewail, hath, lest, ye, kindled. I was convinced that my Bible had typos. I read hesitantly, as if a question mark followed each word and I was oxygen deprived so I needed to take a deep breath after each word. If my good Christian audience wanted a passionate, fluid tale of death and being burned alive, they were sorely disappointed.

My reading skills of the Old Testament were comparable to a person with an IQ of “coma.”  I wanted the LORD to striketh me down dead-eth.

"L" is for Lorna who bungled the Bible and was smited by God.

Grandma kept a stiff upper lip but must have wept inside to hear her beautiful Verse of fire and brimstone hacked to pieces by her apparently Bible-challenged granddaughter.  For everyone’s sake, she kept the action moving, “Tina, please continue.”

My sister was next. She didn’t have any impossible names but at least she had to wrestle with tabernacle, although it wasn’t much of a fight.  She was twelve; she could handle it.

Lisa had Verse 8: “And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying,” Although a little bitter, mostly I was happy for Lisa.  She was the youngest at eight years old and didn’t deserve to be saddled lifelong Bible and public speaking scars.

And on it went around the circle. I never knew what the Bible lesson was at the end of the process. The only thing I learned was that I didn’t want to be part of this family. But I knew that already.

I blame Grandma for my life-long ineptitude when it comes to reading aloud in public. You’ll never catch me doing a “Children’s Story Time” or public reading of my book; I’ll sound like I’m not fully recovered from my frontal lobotomy. You won’t find the Bible on my reading list, either.

She has not trouble, but I'd be like Bush: even upside-down, the words won't come out right side up.

I was a smart girl (everybody said so), but the Old Testament language bamboozled me. Why did I get the Verses with the impossible names and words? God was working in mysterious ways and He seemed to like picking on me. Or was it Grandma?

And Mom wondered why I didn’t like visiting these people.

What about Grandpa?