I’ve always had a thing for rainbows. When my great grandfather died, I remember going outside and seeing the most glorious double rainbow, and I think they’ve carried some sort of mystical meaning for me since.
It got especially bad when I moved to Lansing. Between August 2006 and April 2010 I didn’t see a single rainbow. Not a one. And I looked every time the weather was ripe for one. The first one I saw in approximately four years, if not longer, was shortly after I started at Covenant Eyes and shortly before I moved into my current apartment; I was driving back to where I was living at the time, and behind me a glorious arch stretched from Owosso to Okemos, like a sign that I was where I was supposed to be.
(And then, two days after moving in, my fridge broke. So there’s that.)
Of course, even as a Christian who believes there’s mystical symbolism attached to it, there are limits to it. God promised that He would never destroy the whole Earth by flood again; He didn’t put rainbows down as special promises to Lisa Eldred, or even that he’d never flood Texas or Florida again. So this poem is me trying to work some of that out, and in light of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it seemed like the right time to publish these poems.
As a note, every once in a while I finish a sonnet and realize I’m not done working out whatever thought I had started. Hence, a pair instead of a single sonnet today.
Sonnet 12: The Covenant
You promised us—5,000 years ago—
That You would never flood the Earth again
And gave to us the rainbow as a sign
That we might see, on thunderous days, and know
That You will not just wash us all away,
That You will hold us firm against the flood
That though we may yet squelch through mire and mud,
Yet we will weather through it, come what may.
It’s trustworthy—it is divine and true,
And yet I find I give it too much power.
I seek out rainbows in all dismal hours
As if, in words of red, green, yellow, blue,
They’d grant me favor in great Heaven’s eyes,
And not just safety when the waters rise.
For nothing’s ever said of circumstance,
That rainbows are a sign of Your supply,
That in all troubles, You, our God on High,
Will waltz us through them without consequence.
A rainbow will not save the drowning child,
Nor does it stop Leviathan’s rampage,
Consuming sailors at so young an age,
Nor rebuild what the hurricane defiled.
No, all it says is that we may endure,
Our lives be granted to us as a gift,
And we will stand upon the rocky cliff,
And look upon the swiftly rising shore,
And know that, though these waters seem alive,
Consuming many men, Man will survive.