In many cultures of the world, the rainbow signifies hope. It is a promise of better times, the dawn after a dark, weary night. The quiet after the storm. Growing up, I knew the legend of the pot of gold that lay where the rainbow touched the ground. The only misfortune being that no-one seemed to have reached there! Still, we celebrated the appearance of the rainbow and as little children, that was just the sign we needed to get out and continue with play!
In the Bible, the rainbow is first mentioned in the events following Noah’s flood in Genesis chapter 9. God gave us the rainbow as a promise that He would never destroy the earth with floods again. He said, “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13). The rainbow is thus a reminder of God’s promise and faithfulness.
COVID-19 is perhaps the toughest challenge many of us will deal with in our lifetime. When we are told to brace for tough times ahead, it is difficult to imagine what that might look like. Someone has said that a pandemic is like an oil tanker – it continues to move forward long after you hit the brakes! If we are to believe this and the reports that we are only in the first wave of many waves of infections and that a vaccine is only likely sometime in 2021, COVID-19 is indeed a huge storm!
With systems of work, education, finance, religion and domestic lives slowly grinding to a halt, it is foolhardy to not expect every aspect of our lives being affected. It’s predicted there will be high levels of emotional distress, violence and food insecurity the world over, not forgetting increased number of orphans and vulnerable groups as the disease hits hardest the main bread winners.
In the midst of this gloom, it is difficult to see beyond and picture a rainbow. China, being the source of this virus and the first to record a return to near normal after lock down is definitely not painting a rosy picture, particularly when it comes to the treatment of Africans living there (this we shall revisit)! But in all honesty, will we ever be able to socialise and interact as before or will this virus forever redefine our interactions via technology?
Yet, the human spirit is resilient. It combines hope, will, perseverance and strength even when we cannot clearly see the path we’re on. When confronted with what William James famously called “a blooming buzzing confusion”, humans rally their inner strength and somehow organize the chaos into a reasonably stable and meaningful state.
The “chase the rainbow” initiative that is believed to have started in Italy, which has been severely affected by COVID-19 is just one of many ways even children are showing resilience in the face of the pandemic. Across Europe and other parts of the world, children and their families are painting and drawing multicolored displays along with messages of hope. Social media is also abuzz with messages of hope. I particularly like one I received that said: “When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be. And may we stay that way – better for each other because of the worst.”
People are already seeing beyond the COVID-19 clouds and over the rainbow. Something better is coming our way. Yes, it is difficult to understand how and when, but we can rest assured that there’s a rainbow after this storm.
Over the Rainbow is a powerful song that has sound-tracked history since it was written for the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. It offers hope and consolation to people in extreme circumstances. It helps envision a place where there isn’t any trouble (or at least less trouble). A place just over the rainbow. Many artists have covered the song but my favorite remains the original Judy Garland’s version. You can listen to it here: Somewhere over the rainbow
Is a hopeless jumble
And the raindrops tumble all around
Heaven opens a magic lane
There’s a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your window pane
To a place behind the sun just a step beyond the rain
Way up high
There’s a land that I heard of
And the dreams that you dream of
Dreams really do come true
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top
That’s where you’ll find me