News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2006
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SCOTT MORRIS

Where will Mary show up next?

The Virgin Mary keeps popping up in the darnedest places.

She showed up recently in the grease pan of a George Foreman grill.

Other appearances include the wood paneling of a restaurant in San Diego, chocolate drippings in a candy factory and a grilled cheese sandwich that sold for $28,000 on eBay.

My personal favorite, however, is on the belly of a pet turtle.

Shirley McVane, 81, of Chicago named her turtle Mary in honor of the Virgin. She has another turtle named Joseph.

Mary and Joseph could provide Shirley with the complete Nativity scene by Christmas.

The image on the blessed reptile's belly could very well be interpreted as a woman in a nightgown with rays of light fanning out from her body. But the four legs and tail are kind of distracting.

Shirley is a pious woman who decorates her house with religious pictures and statues, which could lead us in a new direction. Could these images be like those ink drawings that psychiatrists use? Maybe people see what they want to see.

When I look at the image on the turtle's belly, I see one of those pine-tree air deodorizers that dangles from a rear-view mirror.

It also could be seen as a smallmouth bass, an arrowhead, the USS Alabama or the basic ingredients for turtle soup.

The church is investigating some of these religious sightings. No word on whether it plans to interview the turtle or test its DNA for genetic links to the 12 tribes of Israel.

In the meantime church officials said if stale cheese sandwiches, hamburger grease and turtle bellies encourage people to reflect, pray and lift their hearts and minds to God, it's a good thing.

This also goes for people who flock to see Mary under a bridge, Mary on a basketball backboard, Mary up a tree, Mary on an expressway and Mary in a roasting pan.

When it comes to Mary on a turtle, Shirley's friends are skeptical, according to NBC news.

"They said, 'Oh, Shirley, you're getting nuts,' " she said.

But Shirley is undaunted.

"You can't doubt it's the Virgin Mary," she said. "You know it's there, and that's all. You don't know how it got there."

Scott Morris Scott Morris
DAILY City Editor

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