, Gloucester, MA


March 7, 2013

Sticker brings grace to shop

Sometimes, it just happens.

On any given day, sometimes I see the words, sometimes I don’t. But I always know they are there.

Sometimes I observe a customer in my shop flipping through the CDs, trying to think of the name of a song but can’t. He drops his head back, scrunches up his nose, and closes his eyes for a few seconds, frozen in that familiar human stance that inexplicably lets us think more clearly, and when he opens his eyes, they’re aimed right above the door jamb.

He frowns at the bold white letters on a blue background, but after considering them for a couple seconds, murmurs, “Oh, I get it. Yeah.”

Yesterday, a woman riffled through the piano books, occasionally pantomiming her fingers across an imaginary keyboard in the air to assess the difficulty of the piece, when she paused, her gaze settling hypnotically upon the words on the wall. She smiled and said softly, “Oh, that’s lovely, isn’t it? It reminds me of a sermon I heard yesterday.”

The words are on a bumper sticker someone had given me years ago, at a time when I had desperately needed to believe them, and I embraced them then, clinging as tightly as a drowning person clings to a life raft. They read: “Grace Happens.”

Not being a “bumper sticker on your car” person, I climbed up on a stepladder, peeled off the back and smoothed it above the doorframe at my store. Better there, I thought, than on a car bumper anyway, where such a succinct message might be less likely to cause distraction to the operator of a moving vehicle.

Over the years the sticker has caught the attention of countless people, each applying its message to their own lives, their own circumstance, their own need. It has been a path to many conversations, which is for me the biggest perk in being a small-town shopkeeper for 35 years.

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