Back before local Wal-marts, before the quick run to the convenience store on every corner, there was the once a week trek from country to city where girl would trade the daily monotony of grass and trees for the fascinating concrete jungle found in the parking lots of places like K-mart, TG&Y, and Hancocks.
Every time I would open the back door of mother's cerulean blue Delta 88 with its matching plush blue interior, my eyes would move to the concrete. It's a wonder someone didn't flatten my short figure as I walked head down, scanning the ground for lost change or (even better) rainbows caused by an engine's oil leak spread wide by an afternoon shower.
Those were the best trips, the ones where I actually found stripes of iridescent blues and purples shimmering together with yellows and greens, each rainbow unique. I can still hear myself beckoning to mother to "Look! A rainbow!" Never did she fail to look. She may not have stopped, but she turned her head and commented, thereby verifying my quest to find rainbows as important, worthwhile. There were even times when she pointed the rainbows out to me that I had missed.
Perhaps it's because of her that to this day, my heart still seeks out rainbows--in parking lots, against the darkness of sun-lit clouds after a rain shower, in chandelier-hung prisms. Just as Jennifer Lee Dukes @ Getting Down with Jesus sees the letter Y everywhere in creation, reminding her of Yahweh, I see rainbows at every turn, making me pause in continued wonder, and reminding me that I serve a covenant God who will not leave me nor forsake me.
A couple Fridays ago, I stood under broad gas station awning while husband refueled my van in the midst of a thunderstorm. As the rain poured too fast for slatted grates to keep up with, I watched an oil slick rainbow expand and contract as deep water pooled atop it, colors moving amoeba-like beneath and atop rushing waters. Eco-unfriendly? Yes. Beautiful? Oh yes.
Each afternoon, my three children have been enjoying the rainbows that decorate our stairwell, Creator God's diffused light hitting prisms at just the right angle to form temporary splashes of multi-colored light on white canvas. They don't yet connect the rainbow to the new covenant in Christ as God's ultimate fulfillment of promise, although they do connect the symbol to God, Himself.
But now? They're seeing rainbows where I miss them, their child-like view of the world making it easier to step outside the box which says "rainbow" means "ROYGBIV," and in that order.
Yesterday morning as I made another poor attempt at watering the fast-fading loblolly pines in the backyard, Emerson looked back toward the house, field between us back lit by the rising sun.
"Look!" he suddenly screamed. "Rainbows!"
I looked up. "Uh...no. Those are stripes, son. Daddy cut the grass, and it made stripes."
"Yes!" he answered, still excited. "Daddy made rainbows!"
This morning was the same. Dropping PJ's to the floor, I pulled grey-blue and orange shirt over Emerson's head and began to button it. As I finished, he looked down and patted the shirt with both hands. "Rainbows!" Again, I argued, "Stripes" only to be shot down. "Rainbows."
I just smiled and let it go. Why must creation only speak of God in a rainbow colored with ordered hues of red, orange, yellow, and green always followed by blue, indigo, and violet? Who am I to say stripes isn't an abstract rainbow sent by God to speak to us, direct our thoughts heavenward?
Sadly, like me, they'll change their minds soon enough and look only for Webster's definition of rainbow. Or maybe, just maybe, I can learn to open my mind and see the world as they do, God's rainbow awash in unexpected places--the disordered, the incomplete, the wild.