The rainbow is a symbol that has expressed many different things: inclusion for the LGBTQI community, a diverse people becoming one Nation in post apartheid South Africa, our solidarity with the NHS and frontline workers during the pandemic. It also has an ancient group of spiritual meanings, from the creativity of the aboriginal people's rainbow snake, creating mountains and valleys as she slithers from one watering hole to another, a bridge to the Gods in Norse mythology, and in Judaism and Christianity it represents hope in the aftermath of calamity.
Think of Noah after 40 days in the Ark, landing on the mountain, the old world gone and a new one entrusted to him, he looks in the sky and sees the rainbow and in it sees a covenant between humanity and God that God will never allow the world to face such calamity again. The rainbow has been compared to a bridge or a bow. I have worn a rainbow clerical collar for the last year or so, because I hope that we can become a more inclusive world and that the Church can embrace inclusion fully. The meaning of the rainbow depends on who is viewing it, certainly hope, seems to be a common thread, spiritual yearning, whether in religious tradition or in songs like "somewhere over the rainbow" is in there too.
For me the meaning has become deeper through this pandemic. It speaks to me of hope and solidarity, between God and all people, and the commitment to build something better from this current crisis. I choose to be a rainbow person, awake to my shared common humanity, hopeful and creative, insistent that we build a cleaner, fairer world because the old way of doing things has not worked. Finally the rainbow reminds me to be grateful for the courage and compassion of so many. It was always there, but sometimes we failed to notice it. Perhaps that is the gift of the rainbow, it makes us look up and notice with wonder, what has always been in our midst.