My work balcony is perfectly situated for rainbow viewing. If the clouds clear on a rainy day a few hours before sunset, they light up the sky to the east. These conditions occurred twice this week and all of my work colleagues piled out onto the balcony to take photos.
On both days we were treated to double rainbows, the lower one so intensely bright that you could see the different bands of colour quite distinctly. Unfortunately my smartphone doesn’t capture their brilliance.
Our social media feeds were awash with rainbows, and not only the ones we’d photographed. All over Sydney on Wednesday, people were noticing spectacular skies. Well, no wonder, there were rainbow arches over Sydney icons the Harbour Bridge, and Bondi Beach. They even made the international news. I can’t help wondering if they inspired this week’s WordPress photo challenge …?
The backdrop for our rainbow views was just the familiar backyards and roofs that we see every day — but they still gave us a few moments of delight.
Given the prominence of gay marriage on the Australian political agenda recently, many of my gay friends laughingly took the rainbow blitz as a sign of approval from the heavens.
One person suggested the rainbows marked the recent death in Sydney of a man who’d made huge contributions to the HIV response in Australia and overseas. He was a friend of mine, so I liked that idea too. They reminded us of what a treasure he was, during our rainy grey days of sadness.
Rainbows are just the momentary convergence of light, air and water, but human beings around the globe and throughout history have given them meaning, from the Aboriginal rainbow serpent creator here on the continent I call home, to the Biblical post-flood rainbow of hope and forgiveness, to the Irish pot of gold, to a positive representation of multiculturalism in South Africa, the ‘rainbow nation’.
The rainbow as a symbol for diversity of gender and sexuality is perhaps the most recent iteration of rainbow symbolism, being only a few decades old.
Common threads among the many, many stories seem to be hope, transcendence, and unity amid diversity, although a quick scan of Wikipedia points toward a some less positive interpretations, such as demons, disease, and ‘divine sanction for war’.
I’m glad my own Anglo-Celtic Christian cultural traditions sit on the happier side of the rainbow spectrum, because it means that every time I see a rainbow, it brings me joy.
I think there have probably been many other rainbows just outside our window that we’ve missed because of having our noses stuck in our computers and our minds on our work. So, although it feels a little hackneyed to say it, I guess this week’s display has been a reminder that we all need to lift our eyes to the sky more often, and notice life’s rainbows.