The first time I saw a double rainbow was on the day my father died. I had just picked up my son at the University of MN. On the way home we saw a mammoth rainbow fill the sky. I pulled over at a shopping center to get a safer look. Only then did I realized there were two rainbows.
A couple of weeks later I moved to the other side of the state. Frequently, I would drive I 90 between Rochester’s Mayo Clinic and my home along the Mississippi River in Winona MN. There was a spot on that route where every now and then, when the light would play just right after a rain, a double rainbow would appear. Each time was a gift, bringing a sense of awe, peace and a remembrance of God’s promises, a memory of God’s nearness in a day of grief.
The rainbow is a symbol rooted in our faith tradition. Since the beginning of time, a night sky, a glorious sunset or rainbows painted in the sky have caused us to stop, reflect, and experience wonder. The Judeo-Christian world looks to the rainbow as a symbol of Covenant and promise. When we see a rainbow we are reminded of God’s continuing faithfulness. We call to mind that God has chosen to live with us and stay beside us, no matter how fickle our own covenant keeping might be. God’s ongoing presence is seen in God’s care of creation.
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22
In 2015, on the day before the September 11 remembrance, a double rainbow hung in the sky over the new World Trade Center, seemingly originating at the site of the trade towers. It’s symbolism brought a sense of awe to the nation. There have been other moments and other times when an Eagle soaring overhead as I returned from laying one of God’s saint’s to rest or a deer leaping in front of a funeral procession, touched hearts with a sense of promise in these symbols of hope. It was as if God was of saying, “Your loved one is safe with me – trust.”
When I see a rainbow, it seems as though all the promises of God melt together, into that one deep abiding hope found in Jesus.