Grace was waiting for us in the harbor

Grace was floating in the aqualine water of Vineyard Haven Harbor as our ferry pulled into dock on September 5. “Grace” was there before us, waiting.


This metaphor, brought to life in this beautiful long boat, made me cry right on the spot: The power of that reality, an easy stone’s throw away, swaying gently off the bow of our ship, Grace was waiting.

Grace is always waiting for us, ready for us.

“Grace” was staked on a rope tethered to a post on the sandy beach. It was low tide and she rode low in the water. Later, when this photo was taken, at high tide, she seemed ready to take us on. She was a touchstone for me every day. Seven days, seven days with “Grace” waiting, ready. I visited her each morning and often went to get a glimpse at other times in my day. Something so tangible, she called to me, and she reminded me of the reality within which I ---- and all of us --- live.

Grace is always waiting for us. Always. Always. Did I mention? Always.

Sometimes grace has beautiful milky chocolate skin and smiling eyes, short curly hair, and wears a navy blue pullover. She met me as I entered her slip of a shop, a colorfully picturesque artfully arranged spot on Main Street that drew me in with the promise of getting some great photos. And perhaps a gift or two. Mission accomplished.

But the grace of the place was its owner. We chatted as I browsed. Lovely necklaces, a rainbow of headbands, and a long overstuffed wall with shelves of gorgeous but simple handbags, purses in every single one of my favorite colors: aqua, turquoise, spring green.

We joked about my aversion to carrying a purse (Chicago pickpockets do that to you; raise your hand now if you have EVER seen me carry a hangbag), and my attraction, nonetheless, to her collection. But in the end, I left only with some lovely necklaces (most of them very inexpensive!) and I didn’t even pick up a handbag to try it out.

And we bonded. Not sure why.

She had greeted me with “I feel like I know you. Have me met before?” I felt the same way but we couldn’t figure out any possible connection. Except the one we felt. It was real, not contrived. Not a ploy to get me to buy.

We chatted on and on and she promised to call when she comes to visit friends in Denver. “We’ll meet for coffee, I’d like that a lot,” she said. I hadn’t spent much money, certainly not anything to make an impression on her bottom line. But we connected. I promised not to post any of my photos from her store online. (Too bad, I love them.) And she waited on other customers as I clicked away on my Canon. She patiently and graciously added extenders to my necklaces, no charge, and we talked. We’ve exchanged emails.

She was the very essence of hospitality, respect, kindness, and, yes, grace. Finally, it was time for me to go. She came around from behind the counter and said, “For some reason, I feel I want to give you a hug. Do you mind?” I felt the same. And so I thanked her again and she thanked me again, we hugged, twice, looked the other in the eye, and we parted.

Leaving, a colorful, clever display of umbrellas caught my eye. So I turned to snap a few photos. As I stood there just outside her door, she walked through it, and right up to me. A big big smile. “This is a gift. For you. From me. Just because.” An over-the-shoulder purse in my perfect color. Grace.

An odd grace. But true and strong. And it changed me, as grace always does.

And so it comes to us, waits for us, ready for us. The real grace, of course, was not the gift of a lovely purse that I will use! The real grace was Sonia herself, a gifted woman, gracious and talented, kind and funny. And real grace was the way God chose in those moments to gift me with her spirit.

And so, too, is “Grace,” the longboat. Not simply the elegant carved, wood vessel, Grace is so much more! Every day she carries a group from the community out into the waters, as I learned through the week we spent there. A community carried in grace, by grace. A community gathered in grace. A gift of place and movement and sacred space.

Grace is always waiting for us. For you. Always, have I said that already? Always. Grace. Ready. Waiting. To carry us across calm and rough seas, offering a place of community, to row and work together, to face the difficult weather, and to revel in the joys of sun and perfect wind at our backs.

Look for it. Off the portside? Behind a closed door, or an open one? Wearing a frown, or a warm smile. Sometimes it doesn’t have a name in graceful lettering on its frame. We may have to look out before we notice, but never do we have to work for, or search too hard or too far. Grace is waiting. For you.

Jesus, the ultimate Grace, Jesus God, who is Grace. For us. For you. Always waiting, ready, with us. Always. As close as our breath, as close as our heartbeat. Grace, Jesus, offering freedom and power, healing and mercy. Always. For you.

Jesus is Grace. Waiting to carry you, to gift you with community, with passage across waters rough or calm, through difficult or delightful moments. Always offering to carry us in sacred space, in the presence of grace itself, God’s own self with – within - us, and giving an abundance of forgiveness, newness, and healing.

Grace is waiting in the harbor. Ready. For you.

Grace and Peace,

Jan Erickson-Pearson

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