My Aunt Kelly and The Two Way Prayer by Kathleen McAnear Smith

Photo credit Dawn Gaddis on
My Aunt Kelly is an Arkansas mountain woman. She has an unusual wooden home that is not a log cabin, but it’s made in similar materials our forefathers used. It’s a bit quirky as it’s built in the round, but I love the views from her outside circular decking. It’s an Ozark Mountain- modern home, tucked deep in a forest hillside and peering down on massive trees that hide a golf course.

Aunt Kelly is beautiful Christian in many, many ways and she’s up to date on world news, has written a cookbook, and she makes a point of sending birthday cards and attending traditional family reunions- at least before Covid. 

She also keeps a shotgun behind the living room curtain.

Several years ago, my husband and I did a road trip across America, visiting family and friends. Of course, we stopped by and spent a few days with Aunt Kelly. 

We had just settled down on her living room couch, about to enjoy a pot of perfectly made English tea (So “your husband feels right at home,”). She loved my husband’s English accent, even if she thought my accent had gone a bit “skeewif, from living so long overseas.” She  made perfect scones for this husband of mine, even if it was hot as blazes and he really wanted some of her very cold sweet tea. 

We were just enjoying a little bit of mountain hospitality when suddenly Aunt Kelly flew up from her side of the settee and grabbed the shotgun from behind the curtain, slammed open the glass siding doors that had only been shut to get the air conditioning going and she ran out on the deck.

Bam! The gun went off as she aimed for a squirrel. Not only are squirrels just about my favourite little critter but seeing Aunt Kelly aiming for a second shot just about sent me into cross-cultural oblivion. While my husband ducked, I ran out on deck only to hear someone shout from below.

“Kelly! Kel-leee. I know that’s you up there on your deck and I want to remind you that you are not that good a shot. It’s me and John trying to play a little golf down here on the other side of the trees, so could you just wait until we’ve done another round before you continue your target practice!”

I, on the other hand, yelled, “Aunt Kelly! What in the world are you doing! How could you! This is what’s wrong with America. All these guns.” I was embarrassed bordering on humiliated. 

“Oh don’t come that way with me,” she slipped her shotgun back behind the curtain, laughing but seeing a need for calming my husband down a little. He sat frozen. “All those bombs in London? Knife attacks?”

I did what we do in England. I poured a cup of tea and remained silent until I could compose myself. I had no words.

And this week I still have no words as I hear on the BBC that in my beautiful country of origin that there is a gun massacre every single week. I am still beside myself. Gun laws abound but nothing changes as I understand you can now make gun parts out of plastic copiers that have no serial numbers. It can’t be totally about mental health either. My Aunt Kelly is as mad as they come and she would never shoot anything more than a squirrel, if you don’t count what’s-his-name and his golfing buddy. 

So, today I have decided to take a leaf out of the 12 Step Programme and practice something they daily carry out in group zoom sessions. It’s called “The Two Way Prayer.” You sit quietly for five minutes, listening to your higher power. You ask your HP for a question. My question as I write this is “What is Your next right step in getting gun violence to stop?”

It could be any violence, but I’ll start with my family.

And then you take ten minutes to write. You just write. No editing. It seems it might be tempting to edit something that we think isn’t important that upon reflection our Higher Power (Jesus) thinks is important. I pray and listen and write what I think Jesus is saying to me. I will be giving this a go this month, and I welcome reflections from anyone else who tries this Two Way Prayer.

Kathleen McAnear Smith has had three books published and is now working on book distribution with her publisher, Destiny Image Publishers (Europe, now known as Evangelista media) and Sovereign World (UK) Her new website is

Post a Comment