Flair opened early this morning on the dreary mile walk to school. It was drizzling (drizzle is the worst: it’s indecisive and taunting with its half rain / half fog constitution) and remarkably chilly for March.
I have a huge bright blue and white umbrella. I like to spin it and do a little Gene Kelly dance as soon as I open it. And then, I’m driven by pure instinct to invite anyone near me in, to stand close, cuddle up, and stay warm. With my arm around a child or my head pressed to a friend’s cheek, I feel like it is a sacred space. It feels like flair.
And it’s no wonder I feel this way. Nearly every culture recognizes the important role of umbrellas and the treasures they protect. The umbrella’s rich history reflects how communities use umbrellas to shield their most holy objects, to announce sacred ceremonies, and to signal the presence of royalty. In Egypt, the figures of gods are covered by umbrellas, in the Roman Catholic liturgy, the umbrella covers the Most Holy Sacrament, and in the ancient Chinese book of ceremonies, the umbrella always covered imperial carriages.
What sacred treasures, what dignitaries were underneath my umbrella? Was that child, picking a nose and stooping to fix a sock that had inched its way down her foot, a treasure? (OK, that was my daughter)
I imagine that the umbrella doesn’t discriminate. I imagine the honor the umbrella feels to partake in the ceremony of walking to school.
What if I acted more like an umbrella? Living with flair means I open my arms wide to point out and protect what is sacred and of supreme worth in everybody around me.
This morning it felt like I walked to school with royalty. And I did.
Living with flair means I am an umbrella today.