I had a green umbrella for many years. It was on ordinary umbrella that had become very familiar to me.
The umbrella was actually a welcome gift to Cox when I first worked in Atlanta in the fall of 1996. A nice person named, Cindy, came to my work area at the Cox Lake Hearn building, she welcomed me to Atlanta, invited me to a party the Marketing department was having that Friday and she gave me a green umbrella, with the Cox logo as a welcome gesture.
The green umbrella had been with me, at my desk since 1996. It was my emergency umbrella, any day I was going too fast and did not take an umbrella into the office building anticipating a change in weather, I would use this umbrella on the way home, it served me well for 16 years. I normally would not have an umbrella for that long, however this became a fixture in my office and it was always there are ready to provide cover. I was always surprised that an object, such as an umbrella, would become so familiar to me. It was almost comforting. A fixture of consistency over a long period of time, I think it moved with me 4 or 5 times over the years.
Last Thursday we had quite a wet and cold cold day in Atlanta and I used the green umbrella because I did not plan for the rain. The rain was supposed get to the metro area in the late afternoon and it reached the area much sooner.
I had to leave the office at lunch to run an errand and on the way back, traffic around the Perimeter area was congested due to holiday shopping. I was in the right lane on Hammond Dr. getting ready to turn onto Peachtree Dunwoody and due to a red light, my car rolled to a stand still right next to the bus stop. My front passenger window was right next to 2 ladies huddled together, trying to cover each other with coats and hats, getting drenched in the rain, waiting for the bus.
And then this chain of events happened: I observed the ladies getting wet, I looked at the green umbrella resting on the floor board of the front passenger seat, I then glanced over to the ladies again.
I thought for one second, my green umbrella, then I thought the light is going to turn green and I don't have time to hand it over to them and then I rolled my window down, held the umbrella out and yelled as loud as I could, "Do you ladies want this umbrella ?
It all happened so fast and yet in slow "surreal" motion. One of the ladies reached over, grabbed the green umbrella and said "Thank you, Thank you and God Bless You". The light turned green and my car moved forward, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the green umbrella opened wide, providing cover to both the ladies, the Cox logo fading as I drove away. I smiled in my heart.
And yes indeed, God had in that moment blessed me.
As I drove back to the office after that 3 to 5 second encounter, I thought, my green umbrella is gone. It is exactly where it's supposed to be, with the ladies at the bus stop. I thought, how could I be so attached to an object that for 1 second my mind wrestled with the need to hang on to it ? How many more things, items, objects are in my life that I think I need, that I don't need at all. How many and what can I pass on, share, donate, gift to others who may enjoy, use, need, more than I do.
I also thought about being aware and what made this tiny moment possible. I was paying attention, I was looking around, I was interested, maybe curious about the rain falling, (I love water) and the ladies where there, slightly to my right, an umbrella's length away from my car.
How many opportunities have I missed because I wasn't aware, or perhaps because I've been too interested or too distracted by music, or my the next conference call, or the grocery list in my mind that I forgot to write down. That is a huge lesson that I remind myself over and over...... BE PRESENT. When you say Good Morning really mean GOOD MORNING. One of the many things I love about the Ghanian people, when they engage you in a greeting, it is a proper greeting with an expectation of an exchange of recognition of each person, an interest in how you are doing and always good wishes for a good day or a nice visit, or a welcome. Because of that hand shakes in Ghana are minituare events ! !
The last thought or lesson that I took away from the umbrella incident; a gesture, a gift, a validation, humans connecting with humans, it can truly happen in seconds. Small, tiny, even fragile moments can be memorable.
While I will never know the ladies who now have the green umbrella, for one tiny moment I knew their cold, I knew their shivers, I knew their smiles when the grabbed the green umbrella and said Thank You.
While the green umbrella incident was tiny, the one second of hesitation was huge for me. It made me think and recognize opportunities and possibilities. What a great way to practice, to be reminded, to learn very basic life lessons again and again.
I welcome more green umbrella moments in my life, the sharper my senses are about being present, about recognizing and celebrating all the good in the world and in people, I hope and pray that each day will be marked with greater intensity and greater purpose. I welcome that for sure.
Two days ago I got the link to this amazing video, it is worth the 6 minutes it will take you to view. It is amazing, enjoy. Thanks to my dear friend, Jenell for sharing.
Click here for GRATITUDE Video