Re-Thinking Rainbows

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of rainbows that look like this:

rainbow flag

I almost forgot about the ones that look like this:

 double rainbow 2

In fact, in the middle of a spaghetti dinner, a rainbow -no, a double rainbow, appeared through our window.  We greeted it with some shouting, dancing, God-thanking, and more dancing. Attempts to return the kids to dinner failed miserably.  It was hard not to think of this video: “A double rainbow! In my backyard!”  Yosemitebear’s experience is hilarious, but why don’t more of us have this intense of a response to rainbows?  Maybe he at a lot of skittles before he stepped outside that day.

Can you taste a rainbow?

You cannot touch, smell, or hear a rainbow, but it can take you way beyond the physical world.  The colorful arc invites you into a deeper realm of natural beauty.  Look beyond what you see and you’ll discover what really captivates you: mystery.  Sure, the color draws you; but the hidden source captivates you.

What is the essence of the magnificent appearance in the sky that easily brings, “wow” to our lips, or even, “Double rainbow! What does it mean? sob, sob.”   The rainbow flashes her colors to dazzle, but hides her greater secret for those bold enough to search for truth.  My kids insist to know what causes a rainbow. They ask, “How does it form?  Where does it come from?”  It struck me that we first tend to see a rainbow as a diversity of colors.  But if we dig a little deeper, we can see it better as a unity of light.  What is the source of the diverse color?  White light.  Only through a prism does the sunlight always around us take on a new spectacular portrayal.

Celebrate Diversity?

I recall a bumper sticker that read, “Celebrate Diversity.”  This is the perspective of one gazing out from the beginning of a rainbow.  The bigger question is, “What holds diversity together?”  Consider the Catholic Church.  What draws so many people of differing cultures, socio-economic statuses, and political identification to gather under the same roof?  At the center is a magnet – Jesus – who calls and draws every tribe, tongue, and nation.  He is both the illuminating sign and driving cause of every person’s relationship with God.  The Church’s vast diversity is the splendor of her unity.  There would be no diversity apart from conformity of belief and practice.  We should only celebrate unified diversity, or in other words, celebrate unity.  Rainbows can represent diversity, but their deepest sign is unity.

Rainbows should remind us of their Creator and the promise of God’s relationship with mankind, but here I suggest they symbolize the diversely displayed mystery of luminous unity that only his Church can maintain.

The unity of the Church is Jesus.  When he walked the earth his humanity concealed his divinity.  Yet, he once unveiled the mystery of his true presence allowing his heavenly glory to brightly shine forth.  This is called The Transfiguration, where white divine light could no longer be hidden under the veil of Christ’s humanity.  Though his radiant light is rarely beheld by naked eye – it is that reality which we must encounter to know who Jesus really is.  Like double-rainbows, his astounding miracles and the light of faith may draw diverse crowds, but the source of his marvelous light is the hidden divine presence.  In Christ, the eternal chasm between God and man has been bridged.  But the touch, the call, the word of Christ remains an invitation to something beyond a symbol – the heart of God who dwells in inapproachable white light.

Have you ever discovered the supernatural hidden in the natural?  Next time the clouds clear, allow the rainbow to take you beyond the colors.  What do you think is the best way to view a rainbow?


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