“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~Lao Tzu
It was just a solitary, broken umbrella. To the casual observer it meant nothing. It was refuse, trash, and needed to be discarded before the next home game. It had outlived its usefulness and could no longer serve its purpose. Soon, it would end up yet another anonymous object at the bottom of a landfill somewhere, decaying for a million years in the land of unwanted things.
Yet it stood there proudly, its bright red color contrasting greatly against the stadium’s somber grey concrete benches. It had been a couple of weeks since the team’s last home football game, and another was coming up in a few days. The maintenance crew was busy at work, getting the field ready and the stands prepared for the warm bodies that would give life to this otherwise cold landscape. Everyone there could see the red umbrella, but no one really noticed it. That is what happens when something becomes old and broken. The protector becomes garbage. The needed becomes discarded. To many who worked that field on this day that umbrella would become a harbinger of things to come. They, too, would become discarded when no longer loved, needed, or wanted. They, too, would be anonymous. Their bright color would fade into the grayness, and they would be forgotten.
This umbrella had, however, given a gift in its state of disrepair. It had been protecting a man and woman, lovers, as they sat and talked under the steady rain a few days earlier. They had been having trouble in their relationship, both feeling as if they had become broken and forgotten to the other. They both desperately wanted to work it out, to fix what had been broken, but neither would give up their anger. As the conversation became a debate and the debate became an argument, both began to lose sight of their truth. Soon, the innuendo became threats and it seemed like all would be lost on that cold, wet October day.
Suddenly, a gust of wind blew and the once strong umbrella bent in the middle. It’s bright red covering folded backwards, and its arms gave way to the pressure. Both became soaked instantly, but the man and woman stopped their argument as the rain became a torrent. They began to curse the umbrella and the rain, running for shelter in one of the open doorways that led into the bowels of the stadium.
Once reaching drier climes, the stopped to get their bearings and to regain their senses. As they wiped raindrops from their faces they looked at each other. The eyes, those gateway to the soul, met and suddenly the world stopped around them. Something clicked. She suddenly was that beautiful woman he fell in love with, and he was that caring man she loved. Their hands moved in unison as he moved the hair from her eyes, and she wiped some raindrops from his forehead. Their words stopped, their anger was gone and all that was left was the indescribable force that had brought them together. The resistance subsided, and they stood, man and woman, lovers again.
“A lot of good this umbrella was,” the man said, looking at the broken thing in his hand.
“You know, it’s been a long time since we’ve danced in the rain,” came her reply.
They looked at each other and smiled.
“Yeah, it’s been too long. Let’s go,” the man said. He grabbed her hand and the ran out onto the concrete heading towards the field. On the way, the man dropped the umbrella along the benches where it would stay until it was picked up by the maintenance crew a few days later.
The sounds of laughter and rain echoed within the walls of the empty stadium as the lovers danced and played in the rain. After a while their bodies would become cold and they would embrace to get warm. They both remembered how nicely their bodies fit together, her head on his chest, his arms around her, his hand holding her head tightly to that spot where his heart beat. It felt so good to remember how right this was. It felt so good to feel how perfect everything would be when they just leaned on one another.
He leaned down and kissed the top of her head. She, looked up at him, and they kissed like they hadn’t in quite some time. They held each other in this lover’s pose, remembering all along what made their world work. This, they remembered, was the Truth.
“Baby, take me home. I need you,” the woman whispered.
He took her hand again and they began to run to the stadium’s exit leaving their umbrella behind. In a moment that umbrella had given way, and the two would become one yet again. As the rain washed away their pain they remembered their love. Neither would recall what they were arguing about, and neither cared. Instead, they focused on the love they had rediscovered and the warmth they had given to one another on even the coldest of days. A gust of wind and a broken umbrella had provided a miracle of sorts, and one that would not be forgotten for the rest of their lives.
Even in breaking there is purpose, and even in getting wet there is hope. No one would know how important that umbrella was. It was picked up and put in the dumpster with the garbage but it had served an enormous purpose. Lovers who would find their eternal purpose that day owed it all to something they would never know and never remember. As their days became years and their years became decades it all made sense, and the man and woman never forgot to dance in the rain. And they never bought another umbrella.