Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Rainbow Connection

Our "Welcome to Manchester" rainbow

The first sight that greeted my husband and I when we pulled up alongside our rental house early this May was a rainbow. We’d loaded my minivan and our moving van in the pouring rain with the help of two friends. The rain pelted so hard on the freeway I couldn’t see the car in front of me with my windshield wipers on high. But the weather cleared as we entered Port Orchard and crested Mile Hill Road, and as we parked outside our new home, the expansive water view was crowned with a rainbow.

I’m with Kermit (the Frog): I love rainbows and songs about rainbows. I remember singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in elementary school choir and sitting in my bedroom with the sheet music, practicing over and over until I could sing the verses by heart.

Then, there was “The Rainbow Connection,” sung by Kermit in The Muppet Movie, which was released just weeks after I graduated from high school. “Rainbow Connection” became a favorite of mine when Kenny Loggins recorded it on his lullaby album Return to Pooh Corner in 1994. My children were three and six at the time, and we listened to that album most every night for years as we wound down for sleep.

In the midst of my life as a wife and mother some of the words spoke quietly to me:

Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name…

I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
it’s something that I’m supposed to be

Over time that voice grew more insistent, and like Kermit, I couldn’t ignore it. It was time to leave the swamp for Hollywood; I mean it was time to follow what felt like God calling me (in a wordless way) to write and also into ministry.

In my ministry, I came across the music of Dan Damon, a United Methodist pastor, music minister at one of our Conference’s largest churches. One of my favorites, “I will set my bow in the clouds” begins with this stanza:

I will set my bow in the clouds
as I sign of my love for you;
as a sign of my promise
to all the earth,
Visible where gray sky meets blue.

Much as a thrill to rainbows and songs about them, I hadn’t seen many of them in my life. Maybe as I kid I was always inside on rainy days, entertaining myself with Kiddle dolls and books, not interested in looking at the windows, of scanning the sky for its stories.

Even in the rainforest of the Santa Cruz Mountains where I lived twenty-five years, and where there was plenty of rain, I didn’t see rainbows. Maybe the storms were too intense for there to be breaks in the clouds, maybe we were too hemmed in by hills and valleys, maybe there were too many trees, so that when I looked out, all I saw was branches.
First rainbow sighting in Washington on the Long Beach Peninsula

I saw a rainbow or two in our two years on Bainbridge Island as my husband and I leaned closer to the voices that had called us out of California to discover what our new life in Washington would bring.

My writer’s studio was the first early dream, and when a traditional job didn’t come for my husband, a new vocation formed as we listened to those small voices: If you could do anything, what would it be?

We moved, sold our house, and are using the proceeds to fund our project house. We have no salary, no income, no investments other than in ourselves. My younger self would’ve been racked with fear and worry, and truthfully, my younger self never would’ve taken the risk. She didn’t know how to trust.

This time thirty-four years ago I met Kevin in a Rhetoric class and broke up with my fiancĂ© to date him. I was that certain we had a future. And here we are, married thirty-two years, having lived through better and worse, sickness and health, richer, and poorer. (We wrote our own vows, but I appreciate the acknowledgment in traditional vows that married life isn’t all kittens, flowers, and rainbows--just mostly.)

Right now we’re on the side of risk that can look like free fall if you don’t know what it feels like to fly. So we fly, navigating the unknown, certain only in our faith in each other and the leading of those small voices that call us to something we are supposed to be.

Lately, it seems all I have to do is look up from pruning the hedges, or lift my gaze from the magazine on the dining room table, or out my office window, and there are rainbows in the sunbreaks. Full rainbows and double rainbows, some brilliantly hued, others muted.
Full rainbow seen from our yard while pruning trees

Double rainbow from our deck

Another double rainbow, second is faint & coming out from behind tree on right.

Today's full rainbow, spotted from my office window.

Sunday shortly after I’d spotted the fin of an endangered killer whale in the distance a bald eagle flew through a rainbow. All that incredibleness without leaving the house!

A Bald Eagle flew through the rainbow on the left. The one on the right appeared shortly afterward.

Quick moving clouds, open space, water—clearly I’ve moved to an environment ripe with the meteorological conditions rainbows enjoy. But I prefer the prescientific and Biblical explanation of the prisms gracing my view.

Rainbow over Seattle.

Signs, symbols, promises. My life is rich with them.

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