I have two delightful paintings on my office wall. One, by one of my granddaughters, 6-year-old Brittany. The other, by the daughter of a colleague of mine, 7-year-old Nadja, who visits our office occasionally. Both girls volunteered to do pictures for me, and, working independently, came up with country scenes dazzled by rainbows.
Both pictures are filled with light and color. The cherry reds, peacock blues, and sunflower yellows do the talking. There are also some other striking colors not usually associated with rainbows that make an unmistakable statement about individuality and creative license.
You can't miss the exhilaration these young artists brought to their work. Their rainbows swoop. Their trees are covered with leaves. Their flowers smile in all weathers. These young girls laugh at parameters. The sky is not the limit. Judy Garland would have been happy among these rainbows.
For me, these pictures capture the Psalmist's delight in the beauty and abundance of God's provision for all of us: "Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice" (Ps. 96:12). There's a lot of rejoicing in these swathes of color.
When I told Brittany that once in a single day in Wellington, New Zealand, I had seen 13 rainbows, she could scarcely contain her delight. I mentioned that these included some double rainbows, which she felt was fair enough. But she was so thrilled to hear about my experience that she promised that after she'd ridden her new bike, she'd paint me a picture that she'd call "Thirteen rainbows."
Many children have an instinctive appreciation for the spontaneous beauty of rainbows - their surprise value. But they also appreciate rainbows' symbolism and their capacity to make hearts and minds soar.
If a rainbow can appear without warning among clouds after a thunderstorm, why should beautiful healing not be possible after dark clouds of natural disaster or illness have made life feel unbearable?
I find that children who know the Bible love the way the book of Genesis identifies rainbows as signs of God's faithfulness toward us all. They respond to the idea behind God's promise to Noah that, because he had shown such obedience and gratitude, the earth would never again be overwhelmed by a flood of destruction (see Gen. 9:11-16).
The children I know can't get enough of rainbows, even before they fully grasp that divine covenant guaranteeing eternal preservation and hope, which Mary Baker Eddy mentioned in one of her poems as "A rainbow of rapture, o'erarching, divine;/ The God-given mandate that speaks from above" ("Poems," p. 45).
When talking with children about rainbows, I sometimes explain the "eternal preservation" part by pointing out that a rainbow is actually a full circle, and not just the arc that we usually see.
I explain that if we were high enough above the earth, we'd see the whole circle in all its red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet splendor. And because God's goodness toward us is full-orbed, complete, even at a time when we may glimpse just part of it, that partial viewing is enough to get us started on the road to recovery.
Often we see rainbows before the rain has stopped. Similarly, we can be aware of God's healing power even before distressing circumstances have changed. God is right there to comfort us and strengthen us through all the storms of life.
Soon Brittany's and Nadja's paintings, which suffer lots of wear and tear in a busy office, will need replacing. I can't wait to see what they tackle next. What I do know is that every brushstroke will be informed with light and color and "eternal rejoicing." And even if there are none of those blazing arcs in fresh-washed skies, there will be at least 13 rainbows filled with healing thoughts in the hearts of the artists.