a history with rainbows

I have a bit of history with rainbows.

We used to see rainbows often when we lived on a South Pacific island in a rain forest. 

Flying in a small plane, I've seen whole rainbows draped across the tops of clouds.  

I've flown through the entire circle of a rainbow.  

I've sailed through the center of a rainbow at dusk.

When we were being evacuated from the island of Guadalcanal in June 2000, a huge double rainbow appeared over the island, and I took this photo from the deck of HMS Tobruk.

I took the photo with an old-school film camera.  When we got back to the States a couple of weeks later, we dropped the film off to be developed that first Saturday afternoon.  

Sunday morning, we went to church and the pastor spoke from Psalm 19 and Psalm 29.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Psalm 19:1

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. Psalm 29:3

God speaks in the sky, the pastor said.  His voice is heard in creation.  

After church that Sunday, we stopped by the pharmacy to pick up our photos.  And there was the rainbow photo, taken on a day when I'd lost almost everything I owned.

That photo became a powerful reminder to me of God's word:

I am the Creator. 

I am the Sustainer.  

All things hold together in Me. 

I give life.

I do not Destroy.

A couple of years later, there was another day when everything I knew was lost again.  Our marriage was in pieces, and we'd once again left our life behind overseas.

We'd moved back to Texas and were looking for a house to buy.  

I was so depressed, so sick I could hardly get out of bed.  

Andy would go out looking at houses for sale, and if he found a likely one, he'd come and get me.  We'd drive to wherever it was, I'd walk in and say, "Nope," and go get back in the car.

Until the day he found this house.  This house, right next to a park.  This house with a huge double room above the garage where the boys could play.  This house with big windows in the living room that looked out at trees, not at a fence or a neighbor's back yard.  This house that had been on the market for five months, and whose price had just been dropped into our range.  This house, whose owner had dropped the price and prayed, "Dear God, just let me sell this house.  I'll take the next offer that comes."

I walked into this house, and there was an old sticker from the 70's in the kitchen window.  A sticker that had a rainbow with the words, "God's promises."

So, last Sunday night.

The Sunday of Orlando.

I got up and the first thing I saw was Christine Leionen, being interviewed by George Stephanopolis.  Christine was desperately looking for her son Christopher.  She knew he'd been at Pulse, and he wasn't answering his phone.

And my heart just broke open.

I lay on the couch all day, and the sky opened up and poured, torrents of rain, like God was weeping along with us all.

That evening there was a vigil at the LGBT resource center here in Dallas.  Andy shoveled me up off the couch and into the car and we drove in the downpour to the center, where over 1,000 members and allies of the LGBT community had gathered.

We'd forgotten to bring an umbrella, so we stood with our car's sunshields over our heads as the downpour reduced to a drizzle, and a patch of blue sky appeared out to the west.

It was about 7:00 when the rabbi got up to speak to the crowd.  "Love is stronger than hate," he said.

And the sun dipped down into the patch of blue sky out to the west.

And this is what we saw.

And after the rabbi spoke, an imam spoke, and then a priest.  After the priest, a Buddhist, and then the chief of police, and the mayor

Dr. King was quoted several times:  "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

I never heard so many words of love and sorrow and hope, spoken by so many people of disparate backgrounds, in one place at one time.

And the whole time, for nearly an hour, that rainbow stood in the sky, over that crowd of gay people and the people who love them.

In the aftermath of Orlando, I've been numb, and wordless with grief.

But I have a history with rainbows, and I know what they mean.

I am the Creator. 

I am the Sustainer.  

All things hold together in Me. 

I give life.

I do not Destroy.

I hold onto the truth that light drives out darkness, and love drives out hate.

I cling to that.  I believe it is the truth.

I hope, even though it seems like the triumph of hope over experience some days.

I remember the shoes by the Danube and the train tracks at Terezin.  

I remember the Jewish cemetary in Prague and the House of Terror and the memorial to everyone who stood against the darkness at that terrible time in history. 

I remember that the horrible things are horrible, but then righteousness prevails.  

I have to believe that it does prevail.  

It has prevailed against slavery and anti-Semitism, and it will prevail against homophobia.  

I have to believe that people are compassionate and good, that they are image-bearers of the Divine Lover of Souls, and that people will stand with the suffering, when the suffering is made clear before their very eyes.

I trust.

I light candles.

I weep.

I pray.

And when I am silent with despair, the heavens declare.

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