Saturday, April 25, 2015

Grace Endures

Grace Endures.

That’s what the band around my wrist says. It is in honor of Grace Rebecca Mann, a young woman from our community who was murdered last week. She was a student at the University of Mary Washington, where I work. I did not have the privilege to know her, and a privilege it would have been indeed. The impact she had on those around her was brilliantly clear yesterday at a celebration of her life held on campus.

I attended the celebration not because I knew her, but in support of those I know who were touched by her life and her passing. It is safe to say that even though I didn’t know her, Grace has now touched my life as well.

A portion of the celebration was left open for those who knew her to share stories of Grace. It was breathtaking. The things said of her again and again from each speaker were that it was impossible for her not to be completely herself, she was passionate, she always spoke out for what she knew was right (despite any fears she might have had), she saw the best in people, she was caring and she was loud! The one quality underlying all these aspects of Grace was love. She was love personified. That love lifted up all those around her as it radiated through her smile, through her words of support and encouragement, and most of all through her actions.

That is one of the things that struck me the most, her actions. At one point in my life I spent a lot of time pondering the idea of grace and what it means. The definition that I came to for myself was that grace is love in action, love in motion. So as I sit looking at the words Grace Endures wrapped around my wrist, I am struck by the clear demonstration of that definition through Grace Mann’s life. She was aptly named. She did not ponder the idea of grace, she lived it.

She was with us for only 20 years, which I feel is a great loss to our present and our future, but her life in those years is now an inspiration to me, as it is to countless others. I will be forever grateful to her for the beauty, love, and grace she brought to so many in our community, and now into my own life as well.

Truly, Grace Endures.