"She needs to close her umbrella of worry and bask in the sunshine of hope"
(An Exceptional 10 year old)
I remember my first umbrella - clear plastic with Raggedy Anne dolls dancing across the top. Living in the southwest, I found more use for it as a prop in dances and in self- produced plays than as a source of protection from periodic rain.
A few weeks in Cambridge, England... A few months in Dublin, Ireland... I discovered the pleasure and joy of umbrellas. While wind whipped my skirts and rain lashed against my legs and puddled in my shoes, I found a sense of security beneath the spokes of my umbrella. My umbrella, my brief case, my rain proof jacket... days in Dublin were in complete without any of them. And these days served to prepare me for life on the East Coast where three inches of rain a month is the norm and dry days are, at times, as scarce as precipitation was in my youth.
In my childhood, umbrellas served as props. In my 20's, I discovered their functionality and their necessity. In my 30's, I found that umbrellas could be light hearted and fun while serving their purpose; they could be a necessary accessory. Many a day, my daughter and I have lightened the gray days with jaunty, brightly colored umbrellas topped with frog eyes, butterfly wings, and cat ears. Necessities can be delightful and sources of enjoyment - and there is nothing like walking through the rain with a smiling frog keeping you dry.
Umbrellas... a source of protection... a shelter of sorts
Umbrellas are tools we use to protect us from the rain, or in some cases the sun… But an umbrella is also a metaphor for the worries that we use to protect us from living. As my daughter explained it – we put up an umbrella so that we don’t get wet; we are so worried about getting wet that we may not notice that the rain has stopped.
Our worries are our umbrellas. We worry about getting hurt physically or emotionally. We worry about money, dishonesty, abandonment, fitting in…
We worry about so much – keeping that umbrella open to its fullest extent – that the worries become our lives.
At some point we have to figure out what makes our umbrella; and then, what we need to do to put it down. It is challenging to live a life of worries – to live a life that is concerned about what could happen or did happen over what is happening today, right now, in the present. Yet it is in the present that we live. It can be frightening to take steps to lower the umbrella; hey, it can be scary to open our eyes to see that we are carrying the umbrella opened to its fullest! But… the freedom that comes as it closes… The strength, the trust, the liberation… The ability to fully live… It is, as my daughter stated, “Basking in the sunshine of hope.”
I have learned to see my umbrellas. I am learning to put them down. Not only am I basking in the sun and the hope… I don’t mind getting a little wet!
Do you have Umbrellas?
What would it take to close them?