Friday, April 4, 2014
Inch Four: The Rainbow
When did I first hear about rainbows? Oh, probably in Sunday School as a toddler, listening to how God put a rainbow in the sky as a sign to Noah that the world would never again be flooded. I would have been in grade school before I learned that leprechauns hid their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. And sometime around the same time, I would have seen "The Wizard of Oz" enough times that I knew some of the words to "Over the Rainbow" (although I apparently didn't wonder why the rainbow was in sepia).
As a child, riding in the backseat as my dad drove home from visiting his parents, I would see a rainbow across a farm field and urge my dad to drive towards it. "I want to see where it ends," I would say. I did not understand why we never got any closer to the rainbow, those occasions when dad humored me, and I did not understand why the rainbow would often dissolve when it seemed we were drawing closer.
When I finally learned the science of rainbows in school, my response was not unlike the poet Walt Whitman in "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer." Yes, yes, I understood there was a science to this whole phenomenon, but leave me to wander outside and look at the rainbow. (I feel the same way about stars, incidentally.)
I have never lost my childlike wonder of rainbows. Whenever I spot one, I try to stop whatever I am doing and gaze at the splash of color. If Warren is nearby, I call his attention to it as well. "Look, a rainbow." He does the same for me.
Yet in all these years of rainbows, I have never gotten close to one, never found the end of one, never been bathed in the light of one, never traveled over one. So imagine my surprise when I walked into the study Sunday late afternoon and found a rainbow on the wall. A glowing, vibrant rainbow right there in the house! Right there in the study! Right there where I could touch it!
I was transported back to childhood. At last! The end of the rainbow!
After a minute or two of wonder, I saw what had happened. It wasn't a "real" rainbow, of course. I knew that. There was no raincloud outside or inside the house that would throw a bow on the wall like that. No, the sun was hitting a west facing CD and throwing a rainbow up on the wall.
But I also realized it was as close to a rainbow as I was ever going to get. I reached out and put my hands in it and watched them take on the colors. I ran for the camera and squeezed off a few photos. I called Warren up to see it. And then I just sat in the chair and looked at my little rainbow until it faded away.
58 years old and I was fulfilling a dream that never ever made my "to do" list because there was no "to do" to do here. I knew I would never find a rainbow to Oz. I knew I would never surprise a leprechaun with his pot of gold at rainbow's end. I knew I would never be able to let the light of the rainbow shower down over me, a veritable waterfall of color over my shoulders. Why put something on a list that is not merely wildly improbable, but truly an impossibility?
And yet here it was, my childhood's desire fulfilled. The rainbow came to me. And for several magical moments, I held a rainbow in my hands.