The ark creaks against barren rock, washed clean by the endless flood. It catches and holds, stabilized at last against the mountain as the waters recede into rivers and valleys. Out of the doors pour animals and humans, fleeing each other, embracing the space of a wide-open world. But the humans tumble to their knees, breathless before the slash of brilliant color lighting the sky.
The rainbow first appears in the book of Genesis, the oldest book of the bible, written thousands of years ago. It marks the end of the story of Noah’s ark, the survival of humanity in the midst of destruction and despair. It testifies to humanity’s awe before beauty, and our willingness to see the touch of God in the world around us. The story tells us that the rainbow marks God’s promise to us, the presence of the Divine in human life for all time.
But the rainbow tells us something else. It tells us to trust in a reality beyond what we see on any given day, in any given place. Apparently many types of animals cannot see rainbows. Their eyes lack the ability to distinguish colors, so a rainbow covered sky means nothing. It does not exist. It is not real.
We humans are programmed to doubt anything we cannot see, touch, hear or smell. If we were colorblind we would not believe rainbows existed. But unlike animals, it’s not that we can’t see, it’s that we don’t allow ourselves to see. We turn from the face of the other. We turn from our invisible soul. Yet we cannot see our own soul without first seeing the soul of our neighbor.
The soul thrives on compassion, hope, and love. It grows in the company of others. It has eyes of its own, that seek out the poor and oppressed, that cannot stand the pain of suffering and loneliness. This is why Jesus cries to us to care for the poor. This is why Jesus exhorts those who have eyes to see - really see- the truth of relationship, wisdom, and care.
When we reach out to the bullied, the forgotten, the poor, the oppressed, the brother, and the sister, we reach for rainbows. We witness to a truth beyond the mundane and every day. We celebrate the multicolored hues of diversity and difference. We recognize a kingdom of color beyond the grey of our daily existence. We hear laughter in silence, and see light in the dark.
This is a world we can find. It is a world we can create. It is a world we are called to every single day by a God who walks with us, whatever we choose to do, whatever we choose to see.
The topic of blindness returns again and again throughout scripture. Over and over we are told by one prophet after another to look in a different way, to seek in the physical world what lies beyond it. Here we find faith rooted in love. Here we find vision beyond vision, and reality beyond the real. Here we find our ever present, invisible, multi-colored, all-embracing, always loving God.