Posted by: helens22 | March 12, 2011

Time of Rainbows

Time of Rainbows      3-10-11

Rainbows greeted and amazed us on our recent visit to our home on a hillside in Ecuador We’d seen rainbows there before—we have a wide expansive view and the clouds, rain and sun come and go rapidly, making the possibility of a rainbow not unusual as the day draws to a close. But this time was different.

It started for me when one morning I woke to the image of a rainbow shining in my mind’s eye. It was different from any rainbow I’d ever seen. Within the bow of the main rainbow were very thin intense lines of color creating two ‘echoes’ or mini rainbows.

The first rainbow of our trip came on Christmas day as a storm front rolled in near us. We sat in the rain marveling at the rainbow’s beauty, not wanting to go inside and miss a moment of its fleeting splendor.

And then began what I think of as the New Year’s 2011 series – one on the 31st to herald the coming new year, one on the 1st to welcome the new year, and one on the 2nd to usher us on into the flow and energy of 2011!

The first of these three amazed me – it was like the image I’d seen in my mind’s eye. Beneath a perfect rainbow were nestled thin bright bands of color forming 2 ‘echoes’! How amazing to see my inner image spread itself out before me in the sky!

We were out working in our new garden on new year’s day, when our friend excitedly pointed to the sky. The brilliant colors of the perfect rainbow seemed to emerge from behind the orange tile roof of our nearby teachings center and then continued arching over us. Lit from within, it seemed to me. The colors were neon in intensity against the dark sky.  And then a faint double started to form above it, gradually becoming clearer until it was complete and lovely. I ran to get my video camera to be able to share this moment with friends, family and those who support and love our project of replanting the eroded hillside behind our house.

The final rainbow brought my son almost to tears. We’d been trying to decide whether to go home early so he wouldn’t miss any of the first days of his classes at school. Struck by the extraordinary beauty of this rainbow moment and the special place that held it, he realized the preciousness of each day here. The main rainbow stretched, seemingly over our roof—brilliant and complete. And once again, a second lighter rainbow appeared little by little until it stretched from end to end. Inside the main rainbow, the light was particularly bright, sunlit, radiant.

As the beauty of these rainbows filled us, I couldn’t help but also think about the rainbow’s traditional association with hope and the promise that what seems dark and difficult now, will pass, and in passing will reveal its gifts and beauty.

Of the four of us there on the land, taking in the rainbows, each was facing deep challenges, heartache, fear, worry. One seemed to be losing the most cherished relationship of their life, one was poised on the cusp of change they felt totally unprepared for, one faced worries of dwindling finances, unexpected illness in someone very close and a seeming clash between responsibilities and creative calling. As for me, I ached with the others’ sufferings and wrestled with the desire to be both more on our hillside in Ecuador, and yet having responsibilities at our home 3000 miles away in Michigan.

The rainbows stretched before us—urging us—”Take heart! The dark clouds will pass. But remember to welcome the dark times too, for without them my beauty would not exist. I know you see no way forward now, but I am here to remind you of the promise of a coming light, the promise of that light whose brilliance is seen now in the space lit beneath me. Do not despair. Take heart!”

I often remember those beautiful messengers now that I’m back in the gray dark cold of Michigan in late winter. I keep the image of the rainbow on my computer screen. Our son stitched together many photos to capture the full expanse of the rainbow. And when I sense that one of the four of us is falling far into their suffering, I bring out the image of the rainbow, and we reaffirm to each other, “Yes, its promise keeps me going. Yes, this darkness will pass. Yes, no matter what life is giving me, I am blessed.”

A lovely serendipity came my way as I wrote this experience of the rainbows. A friend sent me an email with a story and photos of a mother bear with five cubs. The photographer had spent 4 hours a day, 7 days a week for 6 weeks, trying to encounter the bears so he could photograph them, and his time did come! Then came winter and the mother and her cubs hibernated, but no one knew if they’d all make it through the winter. He caught a glimpse of them after the winter, dreamed nightly of taking another portrait of them. And his dream came true!

The email ended with these words: “When something as magical as this happens between man and animal, Native Americans say, “We have walked together in the shadow of a rainbow.”

We have walked together in the shadow of four rainbows during our time in Ecuador. What a special gift, and one to share. We are all walking together in the shadow of a rainbow on this beautiful earth in this time of change. May we keep hope alive in our hearts, even in the darkest times.



  1. Your story gives me hope, something I need right now. Thank you for sharing it.
    You’re right, as we sit here in the middle of a winter that just does not seem to want to let go, you begin to wonder if you will ever see spring, the cleansing rains and the beautiful rainbows again. But yes, they are there waiting for their time as we wait for ours.
    Wonderful photo – the rainbow looks as though it wants to spread across the whole world. Your son did a great job.

  2. Dearest Helen, you possess a glorious gift of being able to transport us with your descriptions, to a peaceful place of appreciation. Right now I am listening to the horrid lyrics emanating from a 16th birthday party for my daughter!! Thank you for the reminder of God’s simple perfection…I feel touched by your rainbow. Karen

  3. Thank you Helen That was a sweet moment. Hugs Jan

    • Thank you, Jan! Love, Helen

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