Lightning and Rainbows, Storms and Promise

I took this picture from my driveway.


I was trying to get a picture of the rainbow and wasn’t expecting the lightning. We rarely expect the lighting.

What do You See?

I like to look at this picture because it illustrates so much. You can look at this picture and see two very different things.

You can see the rainbow, all hope and promise and warm-fuzzy and beautiful and hopeful and…it's getting shredded with lighting. Message: Good times will soon get fried. 

You can see the jagged, deadly, destructive, starts fires, destroys electronics, can definitely kill you, lethal lighting, with a rainbow behind it full of promise. Message: Things may be shockingly bad now, but there's hope and a promise that is present no matter how overcharged your life currently is. 

Both views are accurate. Both are true. Some of us are more prone to adopt one view or the other, but over a full life I think we will all find times when we focus more on the lightning than the rainbow and vice versa.

The Quiet and the Quick

Both the rainbow and the lighting are unusual and worthy of note. I don’t expect to see either when I look at this little piece of sky that I can see from in front of my house. Mostly the sky is just normal, sometimes full of rain clouds and sometimes full of sunshine, but I expect both of those things. Lighting and rainbows are rare.

Rainbows last longer than lightning, but rainbows are quiet. They come after, or even during, storms, and you have to be watching for them or you may miss them. Rainbows only happen after the rain.

Lightning is quick, but there can be a lot of it. Bolt after bolt striking seemingly at random.  It can strike with little warning, and you can get hurt even in a safe place. Lightning is also illuminating. In the black of night it will light up a landscape, briefly revealing what was hidden.


We don’t have any control over rainbows and lightning. We can predict the conditions that might cause them, but the exact time and place of a rainbow or the place where lighting strikes is beyond our control. We can only control our reaction to them.

We can choose to ignore the rainbow. To never look up and fail to pause and savor the sight of the bow in the sky and the promise it represents. We can choose to ignore the lightning. To stay in the high places and fail to seek safety and heed the warning and the danger it represents.

We can react the wrong way to the rainbow and the lighting. Chasing the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow sends us in pursuit of something that not only doesn’t exist, but can’t exist. The bow that we see is but one half of a circle in the sky. Chasing rainbow endings aims us toward the ground and an impossible quest and distracts us from looking to the sky, seeing the circle, and understanding the promise.

Ducking our head, closing our eyes, and cowering from the lightning keeps us to in the dark and unseeing. Facing the storm, eyes wide open in the blackness, makes us ready to see what the lightning reveals. Bigger dangers than the current storm may lie ahead in the darkness and may be seen in the flash, but only if we have our heads up, our eyes open, and we are ready to see.

Savor the rainbows.

Heed the lightning.

Watch the sky.