Wednesday, January 28, 2009


It was a rainy day in January; the rain poured down from the skies incessantly, drenching the air with a cold shudder. I sloshed along a side street in Queens and lifting my eyes from the slush below noticed a little old woman trying to cover her head with a plastic bag. She had no umbrella, and stood fully exposed to the harsh downpour.
I walked passed her and a few steps away found myself returning in her direction.
"Can I share my umbrella with you? " I asked.
She began to explain in a thick Yiddish or Russian accent that she was waiting for the car service to pick her up after a doctor's appointment, and was afraid that if she didn't stand out on the sidewalk, the driver would miss her and she would remain stranded.
We both stood under my tent-like Tanglewood umbrella for several minutes. The car arrived ,she thanked me and I was on my way.
As I walked away, I reconnected for a moment with an extraordinary experience I had many years ago during which I was overcome with an all-encompassing desire to devote my time and energy to helping, to rescuing people who needed some assistance in getting by each day of their lives; boarding a bus, a few dollars for a light meal, being escorted to a particular location,receiving directions to a destination which escaped them because of the disorientation that often accompanies old age.
This desire lasted only a few brief hours; it was the source of an incredible feeling of joy I had never experienced before. The desire disappeared gradually and all that was left was a memory, one which has since remained elusive and out of reach.
I had often thought about those treasured few hours, of the euphoria of doing good for others. Today, the memory returned a little more clearly; I am grateful for those few minutes ; I am grateful that a simple item, an umbrella, could bring some goodness to another human soul.
All we need, in fact, is to hold out our umbrellas over the heads of others and in that we touch their hearts and ours.
Perhaps, this is another way that can lead to the casting of God's umbrella, the canopy of peace that we so desire, over the heads and lives of us all.

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