May 4, 2020
Rainbows – signs of hope…..
On my daily walks at the moment, I see so many rainbows. Many are stuck in windows having been coloured by children – or maybe adults. Others are drawn in chalk on the pavement. A few are painted or drawn on the walls of houses. There’s even one perched in a tree near where I love, and a lady who lives opposite says that it brings her so much comfort. And last week I saw one made of out those small coloured balls that fill ball pits. Each ball had been meticulously stuck to the garden fence in the appropriate place to make a huge rainbow. There’s so much creativity out there. Somehow this feels like something new, specifically for this pandemic – But rainbows are ancient symbols that have meaning for many different cultural and ethnic groups, as well as for several faith traditions too.
I’ve always loved rainbows. There’s something delicate yet strong about them. I probably have far too many pictures of them – but they all remind me of a song taught in many a Sunday School across the land:
“ Whenever you see a rainbow remember God is love”
This song is based on the story in the Old Testament of the Bible where a rainbow appears for the first time. It happens just after there was a huge flood that covered the earth – the one where Noah built an ark and the only living things to survive were those on the ark. God spoke to Noah afterwards, giving him some commands and promises. One of these was that God would never again flood the whole earth – and that the rainbow in the sky would be a sign of this promise.
So the rainbow is a sign of God’s love, and a sign of promise and of hope. And that’s what many of the traditional stories of rainbows are about. I guess too that’s what the colourful rainbows in windows and places are about at the moment. It’s almost as if we feel a bit like Noah. We’re all sheltering from a storm, hoping it will go away soon. We no longer know what normal is – or what it will be in the future. But here in the eye of this storm, we all crave hope.
Many are finding that hope as a result of their faith, clinging on to the promise that God is with us always and will restore the world. In the entrance of the Royal Academy of Arts, there is a rainbow in the painting ‘Colour’ by Angelika Kauffman. Painted in 1779, there is a painter seated, palette in hand, with all the pouring colours of the rainbow above her. But her palette is empty. She’s not depicting the rainbow, but the opposite is happening – She’s taking her hues from it, drawing down its radiant colours to equip her.
American poet Maya Angelou said
“God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in the dreariest and most dreaded moments – can see a possibility of hope”
As you walk around take strength and courage from rainbows, whether you believe that God placed them there or not. One thing about the real ones is that as you move, the rainbow moves with you – you can’t outpace it or escape it. And that’s the same with God’s love.