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The Rainbow Connection

God said [to Noah]:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.” Genesis 9:12-15

A few years ago, my daughter and I met at the Dublin, Ireland airport to begin a mother-daughter adventure for her 30th and my 60th birthdays. When we walked outside dragging our bags, it was just after dawn and it had been raining. Upon our arrival in this magical land of leprechauns and pots of gold, we were greeted with a most beautiful rainbow! What a thrill! We both took this as a sign that our time there would be wonderful, and that turned out to be true.

For most of us who don’t live in places like Ireland or Hawaii, seeing a rainbow is a joyful surprise because they don’t happen very often. The atmospheric conditions have to be just right, and they usually aren’t. For me at least, they show up NOT when I’m scanning the skies looking for them but when I’ve not been paying attention. Out of nowhere it seems, Boom! There it is! And they seem to show up just when I need them. In Ireland I had just gotten off the red-eye flight from the US having been unable to sleep. I needed something to pop my eyes open!

Here we are at the beginning of our Lenten journey and we’re gifted with a beautiful story of a rainbow as a sign of how much God loves us and how God wants to be in deep, intimate relationship with us. In this season when much of the focus is on our needing to repent, to turn away from sin, to remember that we are but dust, the church begins by reminding us of how precious we are to God! Even though we miss the mark, and make hurtful choices, and fail to do the things we are called to do, God has not and will not ever stop loving us or wanting us near. And in fact, when we are at our lowest point, as Noah must have been after all that time cooped up in an ark with his family and the animals (whoa, this story feels more familiar than ever!) God draws us even closer and will give us our own rainbow if we’re willing to see and accept it. For me, that rainbow is often a song, some piece of music that brings me out of my self-recrimination and self-pity and fills my soul with a deep sense of connectedness. And I’m able to remember who I am and whose I am: God’s beloved child. God tries to connect with each of us in ways that fit us, and all we need to do is pay attention, notice, recognize it and respond. Accepting God’s boundless love for us may be one of the most challenging things we do in this life. And it is the most freeing thing, too. Once we’re able to really know deep in our hearts how much God loves us, it overflows from us back to God and out to other people and all of creation.

And we can become the rainbow for others – living signs of Divine Love. It seems to me that this is what Lent is about: together we pray, fast and practice generosity so that we might live more fully into this reality of who we are, signified and celebrated by the rainbow – God’s beloved children.

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Mary van Balen
5 months ago

Beautiful! Thank you, Anita, for a reminder of what Lent is really about.