The rain came down in buckets as I pulled into the parking space at Publix.
“Annalise, can you climb in the way back and get the big golf umbrella?” I asked.
Before she could start, Zach darted out of the passenger door, opened the hatch and got out the umbrella. With a broad grin, he opened my door and held the opened umbrella over me.
So much like his dad, I thought. As Annalise and I tucked under the umbrella next to this 6-foot-3 man-boy, warm memories from not so long ago stirred up.
Dan and I had been out for our regular date night. We had a comfortable routine: I sat right next to him on the bench seat of his truck as we drove down to one of our favorite restaurants and caught each other up on his week at work and my week with the kids.
It was pouring rain that night too. Florida rainstorms come like clockwork on summer evenings and these are no light drizzles. They’re the kind of downpours where the sky just opens up to empty out the entire day’s evaporated moisture.
As we turned into the parking lot that evening, Dan pulled up close to the front door so that I could dash out. This wasn’t routine. Normally, he’d come around to my door with a big golf umbrella, just as Zach had done.
“Where’s your umbrella?” I asked.
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“I gave it away. I have an umbrella ministry.”
“An umbrella ministry?” I chuckled.
“Yeah. I was driving home and saw this lady walking in the rain. She had her purse over her head but she was getting drenched. I pulled into the parking lot, hopped out and offered her my open umbrella. She smiled so big. And I decided to have an umbrella ministry.”
He said he’d already given away two other umbrellas. Every time he bought a new umbrella, he would see someone who needed it, so he would give it away.
And thus was launched his unofficial but intentional umbrella ministry.
A small kindness can be a big deal.
To see need. To give what we have without hesitating. To extend unexpected kindness and bring a smile to a weary soul.
As my husband told me about giving away umbrellas, neither of us knew he would suddenly pass away the next week.
As a widow and single mom raising our seven kids, I now see how a small kindness can leave a big impact.
Our world seems to be getting harsher by the week, if that’s possible. Tempers are flaring, sides being declared, opinions and expectations provoking offense and insult.
What if we extended the umbrella of grace to those we met in our day?
What if we covered over offenses with a gentle answer and irritations with compassionate patience?
What if we smiled more, thanked out loud and said things that make this short life deeper and wider?
What if we bought umbrellas just so we could give them away?
He who refreshes others
will himself be refreshed.
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