Friday, September 28, 2007

You can stand under our umbrella... ella... ella…

I’ve never felt the rain like I have in New York City…. metaphorically and physically – but is there really a difference between the two?

Before moving to NY this “J” type personality according to Myers-Briggs, was prepared for inclement weather…I had a regular umbrella for days I knew it would rain and a mini (much cuter) umbrella to keep with me at all times on the slim chance the Gods got misty-eyed without notifying But then it started raining one morning and I got soaked walking the ten blocks between my room, subway stop and work…. with my large umbrella. I tried everything, holding it high in the air, using it like a shield against wind/rain…. none of them worked, I always arrived damp and with frizzy hair. Then one day walking (in the rain) with my friend I discovered the reason…here’s our conversation:

“I hate the rain! I always end up soaked!” ~ me
“Well, why are you using such a small umbrella?” ~ my friend
“What are you talking about? This is my big umbrella” ~me
“No, that’s a mini-umbrella, mine is full size” ~my DRY friend
Naturally proving I’m right with all the sass a soaked diva could muster I whipped out my back-up mini-umbrella proving to my friend that…

the umbrellas were the same size.

As the water level on my pants rose so did my emotional and spiritual awareness. Not only my pants but also my spirit had been soaked, relying on a two sizes too small umbrella or support network. As Eric mentioned in an earlier post, it’s hard to move into a new community. Taking on a new job, school and/or family role can stir up storms of fear, self-consciousness and loneliness in us and without a support network of open and adequate umbrellas we might start to believe that these storms define who we are.

Now, I’d love to tell you I came to this conclusion within my faith community but in reality it was on the street in Harlem and through (of all things) Rihanna’s “Umbrella” song. I know, the womanist in me is outraged at the ways we objectify or stand/sing back when others objectify us, and who among us really believes the song is about umbrellas (especially after the music video)…but suspend all that for me if you can (we progressives do this with the Bible all the time, look past the literal meaning and all that others have told us it’s about) and imagine what our faith community would look like if we all supported each other providing shelter from the storms in our lives. How would our care for one another affect our global climate? How would/will we define ourselves as individuals and a community if not by our storms?

To do this I think we need to do a couple things…and I’m sure you can come up with others. We need to be aware of the storms in our community members lives and have the self-awareness to know when we can hold an umbrella for two people (or more) and when it’s time for someone else to step in and offer them shelter. And we need to find the humility within to ask for help when our umbrella alone seems inadequate. Personally I’ve learned from the stormy period of my life (and I’m sure there will be others to come) and invested in a full-size (equally cute might I add) umbrella that mirrors the support network I’m welcoming into my life…many of whom are OnFire people who I’ve experienced allowing me the option to “stand under their umbrella…ellla…ella…” I hope you find the same in our community.

“You’re a part of my entity”

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