As I drove through the Michigan countryside one evening after work, I came upon a large agricultural sprinkler. The water was spraying out steadily, and the wind blew it into a fine mist. Behind the sprinkler, the summer sun was setting, causing a myriad of rainbows to appear here and there across an otherwise ugly structure. It reminded me of the crystal that hangs in my window. At certain times on a sunny day, little arcs of rainbows dance across my wall. The sight never fails to bring a smile to my face. There is something about these unexpected flashes of color that delights me.
Perhaps the reason is because they are so unexpected. Oh, I suppose that someone in a laboratory could find a way to create rainbows at will. And at least one hotel in Texas has made rainbows part of their lobby décor by placing prismatic windows at strategic points. But by and large, rainbows just happen.
Besides being a sign given to Noah that Earth would never again be totally flooded, I’d like to think that rainbows are a reminder that the unexpected can be very beautiful. However, if we are locked into expectations of our own creation, we may miss the beauty that the unexpected offers. We adults are most at risk of missing this.
Do you remember finding a rainbow in a little oil soaked puddle of water after a rainfall? Children can become intrigued by such things. Adults have a tendency to look at the spill and wonder there is an oil leak in the car that needs immediate repair and how much it will cost. They miss the rainbow!
When did you receive your last rainbow? Was it the time when you had a picnic planned, but unexpected company arrived causing you to cancel your plans, only for that visit to become the best thing that happened all summer? Or perhaps your daughter had a dance recital that you really dreaded attending for one reason or another, but when you found everyone talking about how poised and graceful she was, you almost burst with pride? Or maybe you experienced a rainbow when the dish you prepared for dinner was a flop according to the recipe, but the family loved it! And my personal favorite: I am in a hurry to arrive to an appointment and there are no parking spaces in sight. To make matter worse a car pulls out right in front of me causing me to slam on the brakes! Just as I am thinking thoughts not conducive to gentleness, I find that she has just vacated a parking place right in front of me! Rainbows!
Friends and spouses offer many unexpected rainbows. But we must be ready to back off from our own ideas to receive them. Isn’t it amazing how we expect someone to know what we are thinking, but we become incensed when they expect us to do the same. If I am negative about what my friend or spouse suggests, I may be missing some of the most beautiful moments of my life.
Some RAINBOWS are whoppers. People can drive and drive and never reach the end of them. Some of the greatest rainbows might be like meeting the person who will become your spouse in a chance encounter simply because you made a wrong turn in a corridor of an office building. Some Rainbows are medium sized. Those might happen when you unexpectedly find an exact match to the china plate you broke at Aunt Bessie’s that you believed to be irreplaceable. But most rainbows are little ones, like bubbles coming out of the detergent bottle, or finding a chocolate kiss when you thought there was no candy in the house.
All rainbows are wonderful. Be sure to watch for those little ones though. They keep you in touch with good things and attuned to the Medium and BIG rainbows.
When you are wished rainbows, remember that they are best when they are unexpected. Work at allowing them to happen. Don’t fight them. You will find joy, and your joy will spread to others.
I wish you rainbows, Rainbows and RAINBOWS!!!
Oldenburg Franciscan Center