Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gratitude & the Eddie Bauer raincoat

Many married couples go through the growing pains of the home they've long outgrown. Patrick and I are beyond the pale of frustration at this point with our humble abode.

The cozy one bedroom apartment with limited closet space that was tight for a single girl is beyond frustrating for two. Some day we will have another place to call our own - but right now is not the time. We are renters and that's going to have to be okay for now.

So one conversation Patrick and I have had which makes good sense is on the subject of downsizing. Having lived as a bachelor in New York for close to two decades, Patrick is an expert at this. I admit it - I am not. Downsizing my wardrobe is tricky. I think I speak for many women who treasure pieces and have trouble letting go - even amidst duplication.

I realized the other day that I had two raincoats. As I left work on Friday in the pouring rain, I set the green one down on the passenger seat. On my passenger seat was the other raincoat. Two raincoats. One coral, one green. I laughed to myself and realized this is evidence of my needed downsize.

Driving home, I took the exit to my too small apartment only to be reminded of 
how lucky I truly am. 

A scrawny man was standing in the rain, head down and drenched and holding a cardboard sign that I couldn't read because rain had smeared the words.

Some signs don't need to be written clearly - the dejected look on his wet face said it all.
I rolled down the window and handed him my extra raincoat...the green Eddie Bauer that looked least like it belonged to a woman. He thanked me profusely as he slipped it on. 

The light changed...and I had to go. I watched him hug the weatherproof fabric around him and I smiled and waved to him as I drove away. He had something to shield him from the merciless weather. I wondered with our stretch of rain how many times he had been out in the elements without it.
I thought of Father Bill Trott, the pastor of my church growing up, and remember his mark on my life. Father Bill died suddenly when I was a freshman in college and I often think of him during challenging times. His philosophy was to be grateful first and foremost for the gifts we are given and to have faith that we will be carried along even when things look bleak. He absolutely believed that helping others was how we made ourselves richer. Father Bill was and is so right - love is our greatest resource. 

My luxury of a second raincoat could be a blessing in a moment to someone who needed it. In truth, my second raincoat was there sitting next to me blowing an airhorn signal that it was time to say goodbye. Things are not as important as people and the look in his eyes was the look of love for a stranger - a most transformative gaze for me that day.

I am grateful for my small one bedroom apartment and grateful for all I have to downsize.