Rainbows and the Rainbow Bridge
A couple of years back, I re-learned the power of believing in the Rainbow Bridge. Our granddog, Miloh, left us for the Rainbow Bridge. I had forgotten about that comforting poem that many share when someone announces the passing of a loved fur baby. We were no different. Miloh was, and still is in many ways, a part of our essence. My husband and I have had several dogs during the forty years we’ve been partners, but Miloh touched us both in an extraordinary way. It is not possible to share what that means to our hearts. I do not have a command of the English language to do justice. Yet, he is a rainbow in my heart.
The other day, while scrolling through the news feed on Facebook, I found this video of Maya Angelou speaking on why you should “Be a Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud” on the Oprah Winfrey Master’s Class, and then posted it to my timeline, where I found myself going back to it every day this week for inspiration and confirmation that I, too, could survive through the events of the time. Ms. Angelou speaks volumes in this video. If you’ve not seen it, take the time to listen to her words. They are powerful (as all things she speaks about tend to be). If you have seen it, watch again. It will give you a sense of hope, gratitude, and longing for her that is so helpful when you face sorrow or despair. She had a knack for conveying in elegant words what many were feeling. I miss her. I wish she was amongst us now.
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My years on this planet have allowed me many opportunities to meet the very type of rainbows that Ms. Angelou mentions. She is one of those for me, though I never had the honor to meet her in person. I met her through her writings and watching and re-watching the interviews of her that I could find. Through her words and her teaching, I came to know her.
There are others that have touched my life to varying degrees. Some I’ve never met. Others I met from a distance. Still others walk closely in my memories and life. They have become rainbows to my soul in different forms — fictional characters, celebs, professional leaders, passing acquaintances, friends, family, and lovers.
One of the first to grab hold of my need to learn “why am I here?” was the story of Christ Jesus. I was in awe of what he stood for, what it meant he did for me, and what I could do to pay him back for his sacrifice. I was a young child of 8 years. I looked at the world through scared glass and I magnified his impact on my life. I didn’t think I had much of a future then.
Many fictional characters have touched me in profound ways: Aslan, Lucy, Susan, Peter, Edmund, Mr. Tumnus, Bilbo Baggins, Alice, Dorothy, Guy Montag, Winston Smith, Julia, Big Brother, Atticus Finch, Harry Burns and Sally Albright (and the list goes on). If you’ve read the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum, Ray Bradberry, George Orwell, Harper Lee, Nora Ephron, and so on, you get the evolution of my thinking through these characters.
Each encounter touched my life in different ways, but came at a time when I needed assurances or needed to see the world through a different lens. It is unconscionable to learn there are people in an affluent country, such as the United States that do not read. Not because they don’t know how. It is difficult enough for me to acknowledge there are folks who have not learned to read, often through no fault of their own. As an educator, it breaks my heart there are citizens of the United States who suffer from the lack of acquiring this fundamental skill.
But, to have the skill and the means, and then elect not to read–that is pure unethical in my mind. Reading, no matter if it is nonfiction or fiction, is a gift given to us through some divine power none of us truly understands. But, we have the ability. And to not use it, or take advantage of the gift given us, is something I have a great struggle understanding.
The power of a fictional character to deliver profound thoughts, controversial topics, and flights of fantasy is only a small reason for how the short list of characters above have come to serve as rainbows in my life. I hope, if you have not read some of the books that feature these characters, you’ll consider picking up one of them. Set time aside to meet them, listen to them, and then try to understand their essence. You may find their stories will touch you in ways you least expect.
There have been as many luminaries that have touched my life and over time became rainbows, too. Too many to list all here, some long gone, some still with us. I list those that are in mind as I type.
Maya Angelou is one of them, as are Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Barrack Obama. Other writers, such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Joseph F. Fletcher, Jane Austen, Aristotle, Ursula K. Le Guin, Socrates, Plato, Albert Einstein, Agatha Christie, and so forth.
In the world of those I enjoy hearing, watching, or immersing in their works of art, there is The Beatles, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Cold Play, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Yanni, Monet, Michelangelo, Picasso, Leonardo de Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Audrey Hepburn, Morgan Freeman, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Bob Bailey, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Dick Van Dyke, Dennis Quad, Lassie, Mr. Ed, Sean Connery, Kevin Whately, Alan Rickman, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Betty White, and more. I could link to each, but you can Google them if you want to learn more about them, their works of art, and something about their lives.
One recently left us. Mary Tyler Moore. Watching her dance across the streets of Minneapolis as Mary Richards, she made it possible for this young girl, living in the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home at the time to think “I can make it.” Mary’s life showed us in spite of her personal trials, successes, and losses that she “…made it after all.”
Most recently, yesterday in fact, our family lost its matriarch – Aunt Minnie. It is hard to imagine life without her laugh, her sense of humor, and her belief in humankind. She had a faith that surmounted many obstacles she faced in her 98 years. She battled obstacles from poverty to loss of sight, but she never lost her outlook on life, which was showed through her keen sense of humor. She was a force to reconcile with if you didn’t have all of your opinions grounded in your beliefs. That was her hallmark. She would expect you to believe. I cherished her guidance and her mentoring, though often it was from a far and intermittent. She will be missed by many who knew and loved her. She was a double-rainbow in my life.
Rainbows in My Clouds
I’ve come full circle, though as we know, rainbows are not always seen from start to finish. We often get glimpses or see small sections of their power. Miloh was an animal that served more than as a pet, he was an inspiration to learn how to love unconditionally. Aunt Minnie was a human that gave her love willingly as she lived a life of faith and walked as best she could in that faith. Both are enduring rainbows for me. As I go through the remaining years of my life, I know that I will call on them when I need their guidance and strength as their teachings are imprinted on my soul. In the midst of my life story, I’ve encountered many rainbows in my clouds and I hope to continue to gather the rainbows I need as I continue on this journey. Now, I aspire to be as Maya Angelou counsels, “…a rainbow in someone’s life.”
May you, too, be a rainbow!
And, before I close, I send wishes of a Happy Chinese New Year. 2017 is the year of the Rooster — a year of awakening, fidelity, and punctuality. May your year be all of these and more.
In the words of Mr. Scruffy, “Owlways be hoo You Are!”
The following is a selection of books referenced in the post:
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien https://www.amazon.com/Hobbit-J-R-Tolkien/dp/054792822X
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll http://lewiscarrollsociety.org.uk
Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/55
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradberry https://www.amazon.com/Fahrenheit-451-Ray-Bradbury/dp/1451673310
1984 – George Orwell https://www.amazon.com/1984-Signet-Classics-George-Orwell/dp/0451524934
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee https://www.amazon.com/Kill-Mockingbird-Harper-Lee/dp/0446310786
Anything written by Nora – Nora Ephron http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a52568/nora-ephron-mary-tyler-moore/
“I thank God for giving me the skill and tenacity to seek knowledge, truth, and hope, and blessing me with what I need when I need it–especially the rainbows.” ~~~Pam B. Newberry