Claire Daniel, author of '80 Reflective Prayer Ideas' and '80 Creative Prayer Ideas' reflects on the enduring significance of rainbows
Keep looking for rainbows
During lockdown rainbows became a symbol of hope and solidarity in a whole new way, as a collective display of our gratitude to those key workers doing their all to care for and support others. Like many families, we made rainbow pictures to display in our windows and loved seeing people stop and smile whilst out on their daily walks. It was uplifting to see the various rainbows painted, drawn and displayed in houses, shops and even on lamp posts in our community. It provided a fun spotting game to encourage our boys along on our walks but also generated a real sense of unity.
Perhaps you also made a rainbow or found the sight of them raised your spirits, as you saw them appearing in your local area. They were a powerful reminder that, even in times of uncertainty, hope can be found, if we only take time to look for it. Rainbows have always been significant to Christians, as a symbol of God’s promise and faithfulness. An emblem of peace throughout the ages, Genesis 9:16 tells us that ‘whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.’ It is interesting that these rainbows appeared during the ‘storm’ of coronavirus, signifying the determined hope held in the midst of this storm, that it will end and brighter days will come.
I’ve noticed, though, that over time our rainbows faded in the summer sunshine and many others have now become weathered, or were taken down as restrictions lifted. If we are honest, some of those feelings of connection and shared experience may have faded too, as the pace of life began to change again for many of us. But the rainbows displayed across our communities have not entirely disappeared, and that's fitting in these strange between-times; like Noah and his family, we are still waiting for the waters to recede.
It's now clear that there are still stormy waves of uncertainty ahead and no one knows when we'll being able to step onto 'dry land' again. Meanwhile, the continuing impact of the storm of Covid-19 remains different for each of us. For those who found lockdown life an isolating experience, the relaxing of restrictions over the summer gave much needed freedom to go out into the world again, however tentatively, to see family and friends and return to work. Others, those shielding, and tens of thousands of care home residents, never even tasted freedom before the restrictions were reintroduced.
For everyone, this has been a season of unexpected change, fear and loss. In this continued uncertainty, we are still waiting for dry land to be in sight. It's as if the waters began to recede and, like Noah, we sent out a raven, to check on the state of the flood. The news is dispiriting, and as recent weeks have brought rising infection rates, further lockdowns and new regulations, it's clear we need to remain in the ark of caution and preventative measures for now. The longed for dry land and the olive branch carried by a dove are still some way off.
And yet, while much remains unclear and we still have to go one day at a time, God’s love and covenant promise do not change. Life is not all rainbows and sunshine but each day holds hope, breaking through in even the hardest and darkest times. There is hope to be found in every changing season, even when it seems lost beneath the waves, if we keep looking for it and celebrating it when we find it.
One of the most important places we find hope is in the sacrifice made by those who work tirelessly for others in hospitals, care homes and the wider community. May we go on remembering them, and giving thanks for them, and may we be determined not to let community solidarity fade. May we never stop looking for rainbows in the everyday of life, seeking a hope that does not fade or vanish, whatever the circumstances.
Claire includes a chapter of reflective prayer ideas inspired by rainbows in 80 Reflective Prayer Ideas, in a section using nature to inspire prayer.
Claire Daniel is author of 80 Reflective Prayer Ideas, 80 Creative Prayer Ideas and Prayer Journey into Parenthood. She is passionate about encouraging others to use creative prayer methods and speaks at conferences and leads workshops on the subject of prayer.
80 Reflective Prayer Ideas: A creative resource for church and group use
Engage with God through creative and imaginative prayer
Prayer remains a vital part of Christian discipleship. Following the success of the author's 80 Creative Prayer Ideas, this ready-to-use resource book contains 80 further ideas on setting up reflective and creative prayer stations or responses. Claire Daniel shows us how to pray with our whole being - our senses as well as our voice, our hearts as much as our minds. Tried and tested, these ideas will enhance the praying of small groups, churches and individuals.
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