The Rainbow

Dolly Parton once said, “If you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.”

A rainbow, is light refracted through a rain drop. Beams of light appear to be white, but they actually have many colors that the eye can’t see. When the light passes through a water droplet, it refracts, which means that its angle bends, which separates its colors and reveals the rainbow.

Three Lines

What we just learned is this. When light travels from above to below it can do one of three things. A, it can arrive unobstructed and it will appear white. B, it can hit a thick black cloud and be completely concealed. C, it can pass through a light cloud and explode in a kaleidoscope of color.

I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds a lot like life. Life can move along peacefully with no major shakeups. Life can stop us in its tracks with a terrible calamity. Life can travel along and hit bumps and grinds in the normal course of the day.

When life moves peacefully along, there is nothing astounding to draw our attention. Although it is blessedly placid, we feel bored and uninspired. We seek excitement. We want to stir things up.

When life hits those brick walls, those deep dark clouds of tragic loss, we are paralysed and overwhelmed. It takes a while to recover because everything darkens; there seems to be no light.

When life hits those usual bumps and grinds, we have a choice. We can grumble about the constant grinding that wears us down, or create a rainbow.

Creating a Rainbow

Not every time that light and moisture interact do rainbows emerge. They need to interact in very specific ways for the colors to emerge. Let’s look at the rains of life. There are days that are ruled my Murphey’s Law. Everything that can go wrong, does. We wake up late, hit every red light, bring our kids late to school, burn our lunch and ruin our shirts in the laundry. The day is one big headache.

It is definitely raining and we have a large cloud hovering over our sky. It sours our mood and makes us morose. The universe seems to conspire against us in everything we do. That is the cloud. But where is the light? Is our cloud so thick as to obstruct all light? Are these kinds of setbacks as paralysing, as severe, as the tragic loss of a loved one? Does it really rate the depression we throw at it?

This is where we have a choice. We can either grumble about the rain or make a rainbow. Remember, not every time that it rains does a rainbow emerge. The light and rain must interact in very specific ways to create a rainbow. What can we do to transform our rain into a rainbow? How can we cause our challenges to explode in an inspiring kaleidoscope of colorful blessings?

Refract Your Light

Remember that a rainbow is caused when the light is refracted, when the angle of light bends as it enters the rain drop. This means that if we want our rain to turn into a rainbow, we need to change our attitude. Instead of seeing only the light coming down from above, we look at what we can do to bend the angle of that light. We empower ourselves to change the tone or bend the direction of our day.

We woke up late, is that a problem? Actually, it is a thrill to realize that we woke up. We hit each red light, is that a problem? Actually, it is a blessing that we have a car. We brought the kids late to school, is that a problem? Actually, it is a gift that we have children. We burned our lunch, is that bad? Are we not fortunate to have a lunch to burn? We ruined our shirt in the wash. Are we not blessed that we have shirts, and a machine to wash them in?

How many people would give anything to have the kinds of problems that weigh us down. We look at these problems and see only darkness. Just the rain. Just a cloud; the absence of light. They would look at these problems as an explosion of blessings; each in a color of its own.

By turning things around, by bending our attitude just a bit, we refract the light and begin to see the many blessings in our Murphey’s Day. Until we refract our approach, these colors are concealed, but once refracted, the light releases its colors for all to see. It is no longer a depressing day. It is uplifting. Inspiring. An explosion of colorful blessing.

Turn Around

The key is to reverse direction. When the light travels straight down with no obstruction, there is no explosion of color. Life is safe and boring. Placid and uninspiring. When life is rocked by challenges, it is up to us to use those challenges to reveal the colors; the blessings that fill our lives. That is our part. G-d creates the challenges of our day. We decide what to make of it. Will we choose to see it as a rainy day of gloom or will we transform it into a rainbow?

This is the meaning behind refraction. The direction of light is from above to below. That represents G-d’s orchestration of our day. The rainbow is caused by a change in the light’s direction. We cause that change. That is our contribution. If we let the challenges drag us down, we have done nothing to change its direction. It comes down from above and we ride its beam of light straight into the ground. If we hang on for dear life and determine to refract, to change the direction of our light, we can reverse its direction, and ride it to exalted heights. If we choose, we can soar.

Noah And the Rainbow

When G-d promised Noah that he would never destroy the world by flood, He designated the rainbow as a sign of the covenant. Our sages taught that until that time, the clouds were too thick for light to pass through. The clouds obstructed the light. After the flood, G-d thinned out the clouds and allowed the light to pass through in refracted form.

The symbolic meaning is this. Before the flood humanity did not have the ability to reverse course. If they were weighed down by challenge, they grew morose. If they were gripped by anger, they struck out. If they felt envy, they took what was not theirs. If gripped by lust, they succumbed. Those who were righteous were fortunate, the rest were unable to change. Unable to refract.

Noah’s pleas for them to repent, failed because they couldn’t change. After the flood, G-d changed our nature and gave us the ability to refract. To improve. To transform rain into rainbows, lemons into lemonade and challenges into sacred platforms for new blessings.