Believing without question can carry you home.
"--Steve Lopez, The Soloist
Carl was hiding from the same rain that I was, under the same awning of the Pantages Theatre as I stood. He spoke first.
"I think you're more wet than I am," he said respectfully, with a wide smile.
He had an umbrella, and I did not.
I laughed. "I think you might be right," I said.
He didn't hesitate to enjoy some small bit of conversation in a day, I'm certain, often held very little promise of such a simple pleasure.
"Where's a guy going in rain like this without an umbrella," he asked politely, holding his hand out from under the awning to catch a fistful of raindrops.
"Union Station," I replied quickly. "I have to catch a train home."
He didn't ask where home was. He didn't offer any more small talk but just simply held out his folded umbrella.
"What's this," I asked hesitantly, knowing exactly what it was, but not certain of the gesture.
"You want to use my umbrella," he asked, and thrust it gently closer.
I paused, not to think about the obvious kindness in front of me, damp and unfathomably gracious, but to contemplate the wonder of the moment. I had seemingly everything but an umbrella. He had seemingly nothing but an umbrella. It left me silent for a some number of seconds before I could frame it all properly.
"No sir," I replied humbly with as much gratitude as refusal allows. "No that's yours. You'll need it."
He only smiled and pushed the gift closer. "That's alright," he said, "I'll find another one, and I don't have any place to go." His smile grew impossibly wider. If there were ever Grace in a moment it was there in that smile.
Suddenly a gift of my own parted the awkwardness between us. "No, I'd rather just wait it out here with you," I offered with a smile of my own.
"Deal," was all he said.
It's not enough to try to be kind, you must just be. Believing in our connection with one another is not the same as trying to understand. Believing it makes us all brothers and sisters.
It struck me as our conversation ebbed and flowed, and then again as the rain slowed and I readied myself to walk the last few blocks to Union Station, maybe I needed the umbrella less than I needed the conversation. Maybe that was true for both of us.