No 34. Rainbows are circles


The God of Obvious Metaphor sends a Valentine’s Day hurricane to remind us all in LARGE PRINT that love is not a sunny day on a calm lake.  It’s more of a flood, flinging furniture out of French windows: knocking you down, wrecking your hair and leaving you damp and with broken fences.  Never mind the cellophane-wrapped machine-readable flowers: the true romantic buys sandbags.

And the love-hurricane isn’t the only weather to inspire obvious metaphors in me this week as I’ve made an amazing little discovery (that I’m sure all you physicists already knew) — rainbows are actually circles!!  How have I gone through 37 years not knowing this?  You only ever see a quarter or half as the rest is past the horizon. If you’re very lucky, one day on a plane, you might look down and see the full, amazing rainbow halo in the round.

Despite this creating an obvious flaw in the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”, it brings another dimension to one of Christianity’s most well-known stories.

The promise of the rainbow is one of four “covenants” God made with human beings, promising Noah that (despite current appearances) he would never bring an all-destroying flood onto us again. And to seal the deal he signed his name with a rainbow.

I like that only half that signatory promise is visible.  The rest is over the horizon, unseen by anyone.

However much of a battering we take in hurricanes (metaphorical or real) the rainbow is waiting at the end — mostly unseen, and not much believed-in, but still there and full of hope.

(This post is dedicated to Robert Crawford — who wrote the line “cellophane-wrapped machine-readable flowers” nearly 20 years ago, and it’s stuck in my brain until now. Oh, and it’s also dedicated to the very wet fox who has just pressed his nose onto my window, 50cm from where I’m typing. Damp, bedraggled beastie — you look like you need more than a rainbow)

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