The black clouds I foresee may pass by harmless, or if in that Providence of grace they fall on me, Providence has an immense umbrella* to hinder or break the force of the storm — what a comfort.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (CW 2:595)
[*Elizabeth used a variation of the French word, paraplui]

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton & umbrellaStorms summon the senses: Rambling, pounding, crackling. Abandoned umbrellas turning to tumbleweed in a gust. Flickering, scurrying, drenching. Zero visibility behind the wheel, with frenzied wipers doing their best. The deluge marinates to the bone.

If this is what Elizabeth Seton meant by a storm’s “Providence of grace,” that would be a hard sell!

In the image, it is not certain if the storm is coming or going. Elizabeth may be gesturing to heaven or checking for raindrops. A subtle aura rings the sun. It is dismal, and Elizabeth is on the move.

Elizabeth foresees that the storm may pass by. Whatever comes, her “immense umbrella” can hinder or break this force. Force is a strong word. It demands attention and can cause damage. Providence encourages, teases out, a grateful awareness of God’s hand — possibly in the moment — often in hindsight.

Through the many literal losses and figurative storms she endured, Elizabeth resolutely chose her mindset prior to future storms: “God provides. What a comfort.” This assertion, much like a mantra, makes one mindful and attentive to Presence, despite the storm, or because of it.

An old story of faith describes another “immense umbrella,” as it were. When this rainbow arc appeared overhead after a flood, it exemplified God’s forever Promise. An immense umbrella of Providence accompanies one through the uncertainty. A rainbow of Promise appears after the adversity.

Storms come. May the grace of God’s Providence and Promise fall on us. For we are the Umbrella and Arc, God’s “through” and “after,” for each other.

– Catherine Salani (SC Collaborator, Educator, Artist)


CW2: Elizabeth Bayley Seton Collected Writings: Volume 2, Bechtle, Regina M., Metz, Judith
Image by Catherine Salani