The umbrella, a wonderful invention wasn’t it? The “collapsable umbrella” dates back to 21AD in China and a much larger version of the umbrella first originated in China as many as 2,400 years ago! The umbrella (or some version of it) has existed throughout history in the Roman, Greek and Egyptian cultures just to name a few. The word umbrella was derived from the word “umbella” which was its self influenced by the word “umbra” ~ which meant to shade or shadow.
In some cultures the umbrella was often seen as a mark of wealth and distinction, but overall it was valued for its usefulness. It can be used for so many things, like keeping the sun off, keeping dry from the rain and even used as a weapon if needed! Because of the invention of the hand held umbrella, we also now have the beach umbrella and the large umbrellas that cover outdoor tables, providing for a much more comfortable outdoor experience.
I am a bit of an odd egg, in that when I look at random things around me my mind tends to, (almost instantaneously sometimes); see them as metaphors for life. Sounds weird I know…but what can I say, I grew up with a mom that was a professional story teller! For me, the umbrella is an object that contains a valuable life lesson. In its design, it is something intended to protect me from forces outside of myself. However, it can only serve that function if I “use it”.
Our “umbrellas” can be any number of things or people. For example – my boss is my umbrella. I know that if I operate under the direction that “he” gives me…then no matter what happens, I’m going to be fine. However if I were to make the decision to do what “I think” or what “I want”, rather than following his direction, then I put myself in a position to get in trouble, because I’ve come out from under that umbrella.
In society we have an umbrella which would otherwise be known as the “Law”. If I live within the boundaries of what is legal, then I will be highly unlikely to have any problems arise in my life from law enforcement. If on the other hand, I choose to not follow the law, and instead break through those boundaries to do things “my way”, I then have placed myself in a position to suffer negative legal consequences.
In recovery we have an umbrella which would be known as a “sponsor or mentor”. They lay out certain expectations of accountability, which when followed; enable a recovering person to be fairly sure they are going in a good direction. But that same person can choose to either not operate within those set expectations that have been laid out OR to not utilize a sponsor/mentor at all. In doing this, the addict/alcoholic then is reliant solely upon their thinking and direction – which will inevitably lead to unnecessary problems.
Ultimately we have a spiritual umbrella which is “God”. When we follow a few spiritual principles, we will find ourselves able to live in constant companionship with Him, enabling us ultimately to be tapped into a constant source of direction, ability and peacefulness. But as most of us know, when we step away from those spiritually based action steps, to instead “do our own thing our own way” – well you guessed it: Things don’t generally work out to well. At least, not as we had hoped they would.
The interesting thing is how although these areas are each separate and unique examples, when taken in the reverse order it is easy to see how all of them are interconnected:
By taking the action of the 12 steps/spiritual principles of recovery, I will be placing myself under “God’s Umbrella”; Under God’s umbrella, I will naturally be leaning into a sponsor/mentor and others for support and accountability; Through my accountability to my sponsor/mentor and the application of the principles, I will remain spiritually fit and connected to the God of my understanding being quite likely to operate within the boundaries of the law(s) in my society; As a result of all of this, I will likely be inclined to do the things I need to do at my job allowing the continuation of employment and personal growth in that field.
Who would have thought umbrellas could be so important?
© 2015 Rebecca Balko