About two weeks ago, I found myself searching through pages and pages and pages of etsy shops to find the perfect hand stamped necklace with an umbrella on it.
I don’t know WHY. Why I was scrolling and scrolling and searching for that piece that spoke to me. umbrellas. For me and the women in my life.
talk about following a hunch. A whisper.
I found the perfect one. And ordered all that she had listed.
Every day since then I have thought about umbrellas. About shelter. About storms. i’ve been seeing umbrellas all over— in the old woman’s hand as she walked out of the grocery store to a surprise rain shower. In every box I’ve gone through and organized (where did we get so many umbrellas?!) in old photos. In stores. In ad campaigns. umbrellas. Everywhere, all of a sudden.
Last Monday, with a heavy heart, I had the honor of photographing a tender and heart wrenching funeral service for a woman, mom, daughter, wife, suddenly taken, seemingly too soon. As I stood in the surprising rain and chilly weather surrounded by orchards and farmland as far as you could see, I held back tears behind my lens.
But then as the family and loved ones started gathering… umbrellas. everywhere. Being offered and opened and held over mourning and heavy hearts. Black umbrellas, pink ones with flowers, all sheltering from the sudden spring storm.
I watched as the young woman’s older sister held tightly to an umbrella that was handed to her by another woman, over her and her mother. They didn’t have to speak a word, the daughter just held tightly to that umbrella as they walked arm in arm to the seating area. Not a day anyone ever wants to experience. Nothing could stop this storm, it was here. But the shelter that they offered each other was touching to witness, and moved me beyond words. The physical umbrella sheltering them from the spring rain, and the intangible love and support they offered to one another made my vision blurry with tears as I tried to capture the moment.
None of us will escape heart break. Heavy morning and nights. Moments that feel like, just too much. storms that come out of nowhere. Seconds that never end. Darkness overhead. Fog all around. fear. despair. numbness. anxiety. hopelessness. grief. regret. loss.
During those storms— even the downpour of sorrow— there will be umbrellas all around.
Our savior, Jesus Christ, is the ultimate umbrella, who offers the ultimate shelter. His love and grace and atonement can be the perfect shelter as we weather whatever storm we are in.
Other people may hurry to hold an umbrella over our heads, not sure what else to do or say. maybe just to carry it for a little while. The shelter of knowing you’re not alone. That you are loved.
We can decide to be really tough and stand under the cold and wet storm getting drenched. Determined to handle it, deal with it, and take it. We can grit our teeth and power through the thunder and lightning. Socks wet, fingers numb. no matter the umbrellas around us, we can choose to push them away. To turn them down.
Or we can allow the love of our savior and others to quietly shelter us from the storm. The rain might still come down. Our hearts might still be heavy. but the umbrella reminds us we aren’t alone. We are loved. And known.
May we be the umbrella for others, offering love and sometimes quiet shelter from the storm.
and when we’re under the storm clouds, may we let our walls down enough to let our savior & others hurry to our sides, umbrella in hand to, to carry it with us for a time. To shelter us. To love us.
This life is a beautiful gift. as we lean on and support each other, and come unto our savior, even the darkest storms and deepest sorrows can be weathered, somehow.
Maybe it’s a miracle. Maybe it’s why we’re here. Maybe it’s all that matters.
parent to child, husband to wife, friend to friend, old to young, young to old, stranger to stranger, us to them, me to you, and ultimately each child of God to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
So reach out and offer an umbrella, or stand together under one.
You’re never alone.
You are loved.