Rainbows are for the moment. A brilliant one appeared outside my window a few minutes ago. I grabbed my camera but decided to first share the moment by announcing it to family members downstairs. By the time I returned to the window, it had faded.
Kelsey came upstairs, distraught about life and the world, needing a hug. We snuggled on the sofa. As we talked and prayed, the rainbow reappeared three more times, closer and brighter than before. Whales spouted in the channel. My arms wrapped around my daughter, I didn’t take any photos. There was really no need. In the islands, as in life, there will always be more rainbows. More moments to cherish.
God is our provider. He provides expansively, extravagantly, every day. If we are zeroed in on one thing, we may not notice His gifts in our day. Today I pray for awareness, the ability to notice all He gives me within this day. I want to receive each gift, to delight in it, as God delights in giving it to me.
As a kid, the concept of appreciation was synonymous with shame in my mind. I was told to appreciate what I had, not ask for more. I was told I didn’t appreciate enough all my parents sacrificed for me. I was forced to write thank you notes, expressing appreciation which I may or may not have felt. Gratefulness was forced upon me like boiled spinach soaked in vinegar.
Those experiences make me shrink, even as an adult, from words such as appreciation and gratitude. These words still reflect an overwhelming SHOULD, an obligation that shouts that I am not enough. No matter your income level, reminding your children how spoiled they are (especially compared to your upbringing) will likely instill guilt, perhaps a sense of indebtedness, but not thankfulness. Shaming a person does not produce true gratitude. Gifts that come with strings are not true gifts.
The gifts God offers are not conditional upon our response. It is shame-based thinking that turns the free gift of grace into a transactional proposition. God does not trade His forgiveness for our good behavior. We don’t submit our lives to His authority in exchange for the reward of heaven. The blessings He offers, He offers freely.
Today, the anxiety in the air around me is nearly palpable. It is within my household, due to a variety of circumstances and body chemistries. And it is in the world, as the pandemic continues to devastate lives and as Trump supporters storm the Capitol in an attempt to dissuade Congress from certifying election results. For me, there is a very strong temptation to sink into the mire and muck of despair.
But today, there are also rainbows. Whales spouting and breaching. The one year-old next door repeats an excited “Da!” as he toddles toward his father. Birds chirp sharply in response to one another. Are they oblivious, these creatures, of the world’s troubles? Or do they know a deeper truth, that our world is under the watchful eye of a loving Creator? That no matter how we fuss, we are being tenderly held in our doting Parent’s arms.
Does it seem naive to speak of Maui rainbows and birds when gun-wielding rioters are smashing through windows in Washington? Perhaps. Yet, today is also Epiphany. The day we celebrate the Magi’s gifts to Jesus. Valuable treasures laid before an impoverished family. A small child standing solemnly in the face of a narcissistic king, a cruel Empire, a corrupted church and a suffering world. Was it naive to think God’s gift of His son could change the world? Despite what today’s news feeds suggest, I trust His plan. God’s kingdom has come to this earth. Hearts are changed, one at a time. Love conquers fear. Kindness overwhelms hate.
Rainbows fade. Epiphanies stand.