A Matron of Grace

Glorious, glorious spring has arrived in Charlottesville, and all the Colliers are clapping our hands in delight and gratitude. On Saturday we pulled out the bikes and made a family caravan, like a line of eager ducks, downtown to the outdoor City Market. Each weekend, the Market takes over an expansive parking lot and packs in vendor’s booths, tight as sardines. Organic plants (three tomatoes, one red pepper and two basil for us), fresh produce, baked goods (Wyatt scarfed a blueberry muffin nearly as big as his face), those dangerous handcrafted tacos (line stretching at least half a block) and every manner of artisan craft (jewelery, paintings, woodwork, you name it). It’s a marvelous mess of creation, humanity and goodness.

After Wyatt picked out his colossal-sized muffin, I went to pay and found myself among a small crush pressed tight between two vendors, one tempting us with an assortment of fluffy biscuits, the other displaying tarts and pound cake and cookies. A perilous spot. I stood behind an elderly woman, in her eighties I suspect. She was tall, but slightly stooped. She wore a faded denim shirt, full sleeves and a dark blue skirt flowing nearly to the ground. Her silver hair touched her shoulders, a beauty undiminished by her aged frame and her shuffling movement.

Attempting to step away from the table, the matron turned toward me. She caught me unawares, and I simply froze. We met face to face, only two or three inches separating us. Without a hiccup or any hesitation, she smiled, big blue eyes. She put her finger up right at my goatee. “My, my,” she chuckled. Her kind, raspy voice barely more than a whisper. “Isn’t that a cute mustache.” And then she moved past me.

That exchange, those words, have brought me joy for the past two days. A very human moment, right up close. It was the most natural thing for that dear woman to put her hand to my face, to hold my eyes with hers, to speak a word of delight. My only regret is that I wish I’d possessed the presence of body and soul that she carried so easily. I wish I had kissed her on her cheek.

7 Replies to “A Matron of Grace”

  1. I wish I could sit down and chat with you, Winn. Your words always conjur something in my soul. Today it reminds me of my inner battle: to write (about Jesus) or not to write (about Jesus), that is the conundrum. I am moved to holy bits when I read stories of humanity and love; of foolishness and grace. Seems my assumptions are that not to write about Jesus is a rejection of Him (of sorts). I don’t want to do that. But what do I do with this river of desire that won’t seem to slow….? My apologies for taking up this public space to lament my struggle.

    1. We can probably have that chat sometime. Until then, I’d say trust what’s in your gut, just give what you have and that will be what we need to hear. Sometimes grace (which is Jesus) is blunt, sometimes it comes sideways. Either way, if it’s what you have to give, give it.

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