The news claimed that today’s storm would be mild. I took this to mean that my Saturday walk to the coffee shop could be safely undertaken with a jacket and an umbrella. The news reporter got it half right, the wind proved to be much stronger than my protection.
My 12 dollar umbrella was not up to the task of withstanding the wind. It blew inside-out several times and one of its supporting struts was dislodged and hung menacingly in front of my eyes. I was concerned that a gust might render me blind or worse if the thin piece of metal suddenly became wind-driven.
My catastrophic umbrella failure got me thinking about how I live beneath symbolic umbrellas every day. My umbrella is supposed to give me with shelter from wind and rain. In a similar way my paycheck, my benefits, my retirement accounts, my health, my relationships, are all protection from discomfort in a stormy life.
Just as the protection of my umbrella failed me this morning, my life umbrellas are just as susceptible to strong winds of a storm. My job can be lost in a heartbeat and suddenly there’s no paycheck. My benefits and retirement accounts can be decimated by a weak economy. My health can change in a single moment of diagnosis. My relationships will all end, either with me departing or with others departing ahead of me. My umbrellas are real, yet fallible protection.
The people of Japan must be feeling vulnerable beneath their umbrellas at the moment. Their perceptions of security were literally shaken to pieces. I watch Japan and I know there is a lesson in their tragedy for me.
Hiding myself under life’s umbrellas – secure shelter, relationships, jobs, health – is illusory because they can be torn by a strong wind, just as my umbrella was unfolded and broken this morning, all in a series of gusts.
Faith in God is the only umbrella that winds of fate cannot blow away.