A few weeks ago, it was pouring rain for five days, or perhaps a month because it felt like that, and it was relentless. One particular day in the tundra of rain my husband was, hmmm…how do I say this politely, complaining we didn’t have any umbrellas in our house. If we have had them, they somehow disappear. I didn’t want him to know I had one in the front seat of my car. Albeit, busted and small, the umbrella was a delicious red secret I was unwilling to share.
Later that day, or maybe even the next day, I was out running errands. It was pouring, and pouring, and pouring. I was trying to get it all done before kids needed to be greeted getting off the afternoon bus.
As I was preparing to turn onto Detroit Rd to access the highway a man with a vest and short sleeves was standing on the corner of the intersection, rain saturating him as he waited for the crosswalk signal. He had no jacket and looked like he was in work clothes of some sort, maybe a mechanic? I felt weird for a moment. Here I am in my heated car, listening to some jams, spending cheddar like a boss and this guy is standing out in the rain.
I turned left and a nudge in my spirit said, “Turn around and give that man your umbrella.” To which I responded, “My crappy umbrella that is perhaps 3 sizes too small?” The answer back, “Yes.” Large sigh ensued, and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to pull a quick U-turn. I had to drive over the bridge and as I was about to make a U-turn a cop was sitting at the light as if saying, “Try me, girl.” “Dang it,” I said out loud. I proceeded to turn down the next street over and a huge semi was waiting at that light causing me to have to go halfway down the side street to turn around in a business parking lot. “Siggggghhhhhhhh. This is ridiculous because by the time I make it back this dude will be gone.”
After what seemed like five minutes to get back to the intersection, I saw the man was gone. “Turn right,” the nudge said. I turned right and what do you know about ¼ mile down the road he was standing at another crosswalk preparing to cross; conveniently on my side of the road allowing me to be able to roll down my passenger window and hand him the busted red umbrella through my passenger window.
He looked at me with surprise, as the rain pelted his face, smiled and said, “Gracias.” I felt like a complete jerk handing him my way small umbrella with a few broken wings. He immediately opened it up and put it over his head. It provided a quaint space of shelter, enough to keep the pellets of rain from beating on his face.
I turned back around in the parking lot I had pulled into and passed him once again. Slight wave to each other and back to two strangers passing in the pouring rain.
I don’t want a gold medal or a pat on the back for the act of kindness. I share because I think of all the moments in my life I was shown immense grace. There were many times, probably most of the times, I did not deserve it. Poor choices, terrible decisions, selfish moments, you know probably like every single one of us. Yet I was always afforded the gift of grace.
I didn’t have much to give this man. It was inconvenient to my day and the logistics to perform the duty was painful. I will never know the end result, whether it was pointless or changed his day. We had minimal communication and I’m pretty sure he didn’t speak a lick of English.
Grace doesn’t have to explain itself.
Grace just is. Grace is free to give, as it has been given to us freely. No agenda. No questions asked. No expectations. Well, maybe one expectation. Perhaps to pass it on.
All you have to have is a stockpile of busted red umbrellas and a moment to spare.