By Adeena Hires
With spring comes some incredible storms, and along with it — rainbows. No matter your age, when one spots a rainbow, it elicits feelings of wonder, beauty, joy and happiness.
“A rainbow is a multicolored arc made by light striking water droplets," according to National Geographic. "The most familiar type rainbow is produced when sunlight strikes raindrops in front of a viewer at a precise angle (42 degrees).”
Rainbows are symbolic and offer an interpretation that can differ from one person to another, but they are often a sign of promise, hope, equality or good fortune.
In Christianity, a promise was the first attribute of the rainbow as shown in Genesis. God destroyed the earth with a flood because of his disappointment in humans, but promised never to do it again.
Genesis 9:12–17: “And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
In some cultures, the rainbow represent a bridge. In Greek mythology, Iris, the goddess of rainbows, traveled the rainbow to carry messages to earth. In ancient Japan the rainbow was a celestial bridge. In Norse mythology the rainbow connected Asgard and Midgard.
St. Patrick, a fifth-century Christian missionary, went to Ireland to preach God's word in a country shifting from paganism to Christianity. Consequently, Irish myths and legends of rainbows and pots of gold merged with Christian beliefs. Therefore, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is really about a transition from paganism to Christianity.
In Irish folklore, the leprechaun hides their gold in a pot at the end of a rainbow. Unfortunately, the end of the rainbow is ever-elusive, making the pot of gold unattainable (unless you catch the leprechaun).
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, an Irish saying dating back to the 17th century states a person “was as likely to find a pot of gold, as to find the end of a rainbow.” The idiom of this saying being that your end goal (pot of gold) may be very alluring, but one will probably never achieve it.
Yet, the rainbow represents hope, dreams, and the journey to that “pot of gold”. Finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow is certainly nice, but it is often more indicative of pursuing a dream and striving to reach it. Just like Judy Garland sang in the Wizard of Oz,
“Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true”. However, since the end of the rainbow is an optical illusion, you find this magical place is unreachable as she sings “Birds fly over the rainbow – why then, oh, why, can’t I?”
It is the rainbow that reminds us of our dreams- of possibility, hope, and ambition. They are certainly one of God’s miracles- his promise. Enjoy these spring storms in their entirety and look out for the colorful phenomenons that come along with them. And bear in mind that although it is often difficult to spot rainbows amid life's storms, it is meaningful to remember that they only appear after a storm. ♦
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