08 November, 2010


"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?   





Constance said...

Perfect post for me to read this morning! I feel a sigh of relief and stress evaporating from my heart. The umbrella is a wonderful example and analogy. I'd have liked to see the one with frogs:)

Sara said...


I loved the analogy of the umbrella. I can see a sidewalk full of people, all holding their umbrellas. As you so rightly said, these umbrellas keep us dry, but also make it hard for us to see each other.

What would take to close one of my umbrellas? It would take "trust" for me. I'm not always the most trusting person regarding other people and life, in general.

I'm learning to lower the umbrella, but I must confess it does up again some times. I think, however, it's staying closed a lot more than it used to because I am trusting more than I used to.

Interesting post:~)

Belinda said...

This is so true, isn't it? There is something falsely comforting about an umbrella of worries. We're so obsessed with safety (or what not) that we shield ourselves from the rain without ever questioning just how harmful it is. And it's not. (I kind of like rain and my son, well, he loves it.) And most of our worries only steal precious time from us when we could be loving life.

What an astute young lady your daughter is.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi TE .. I don't use them .. hate the things .. they get in the way & then drip their drips onto you!! But I understand they're useful ..

I'm sure I have umbrella clouds around me .. they vaporise occasionally or hang limply waiting for me to push them away ..

It's true though .. the sooner we take the umbrella down the sooner the sun will come out and the light will re-enter our souls ..

Thanks great post on the ubiquitous umbrella .. have a good week .. Hialry

Janice Lynne Lundy said...

I love your take on umbrellas. And I especially enjoy your invitation to not be afraid to get a little wet. :-)

Davina Haisell said...

Wonderful analogy!

Since I moved to Vancouver 10 years ago I'm quite familiar with umbrellas. Funnily enough, I'm so used to the rain I don't always put up an umbrella, especially if I'm dashing somewhere around the corner. I don't like toting the wet thing around with me. But, if it's pouring and I have a ways to go, then I'll grin and bear it.

BigLittleWolf said...

Lovely. And yes, they protect and keep us apart.

I have umbrellas and plan to keep them. They're small scale, however. Some protection, and a little less distance than the big ones.


Joy said...

I love this..
Then I was thinking, here some people use umbrellas on particularly sunny days to shield themselves from getting "burned"..
We decorate our umbrellas, keep them in storage, parade them out and around..and even compare them with others..
I love the elements on my skin..sun, rain, yes even snow..just as I like the feel of the elements of life..so I don't use an umbrella..but I tote one around during inclement weather in case someone around me needs it..