We are living in extraordinary times of suffering and darkness which is affecting the whole world. No one is untouched.
What does it all mean?
I don’t think there is any “meaning” or “purpose” in the pandemic caused by COVID-19 (Coronavirus), although there are undoubtedly important things we can learn from it.
One thing I am sure of is that it has not been caused by God – nor is he “sitting in Judgement”, nor is he punishing the world or even any particular nation or group. Nor do I believe he is apart from us, somehow “watching from a distance” to see how we will all respond.
I believe God is actually right here with all of us, especially the most vulnerable people, in the midst of all the chaos and suffering. God is deep within us, part of us, and is suffering and grieving with every one of us, longing for us all to recognise and acknowledge his presence. He is also there in the millions of acts of kindness, selflessness and sacrifice around the world.
We have all had to drastically change our ways of living and being, of relating and doing because of the tragedy spreading across the globe. But it would be an even greater tragedy if, when this is all over (as we hope it will be one day), we just go back to our old ways – ways which we know are causing untold suffering amongst the most vulnerable people in the world, dividing us and setting us against one another and creation, resulting in climate change and destruction of the planet.
Rainbows are one of the wonders of nature. Who doesn’t get excited and gaze in wonder when we see a rainbow in the sky, especially if it is lit up in front of black clouds?
Rainbows are seen by so many people, both ancient and modern, as a promise of hope and new life after devastation. For Jews and Christians, this is based on the ancient story of Noah following God’s instructions to build a boat to save his family and all species of land animals from total extinction. The great flood eventually ended with the rainbow and God’s promise for the future.
It took many centuries to begin to understand the science of how and why rainbows are formed, which is perhaps why there are various myths and legends, such as a pot of gold being at the end of a rainbow. But you can never actually reach or touch a rainbow or find where it ends as it moves away from you if you travel towards it – so you will never find the pot of gold!
The rainbow is a particularly appropriate, beautiful and meaningful symbol in these dark stormy days as the world struggles to come to grips with Coronavirus. More and more people around the world are making rainbows to put in their windows, an act of unity and mutuality as well as a lovely symbol of hope and love.
I have made one by felting dyed wool. I then stitched these words on to it: “Promise for a Better Future for the Whole World”.
It is now up in our front window.
I’m looking forward to seeing many more rainbows as people from all over the world put rainbows in their windows and share photos of them on the internet. Do you know people who are particularly sad or lonely, or perhaps someone who is taking risks and working hard on the “frontline” during the pandemic, who would appreciate it if you made a rainbow for them to put in their windows?
Why do we have to wait for tragedy to make significant changes, recognise our common humanity, bring us together and appreciate what matters most in life? Let’s not miss this opportunity. Whilst we can each make a difference in our own lives, we also need to put pressure on all governments to make the radical changes that are essential at this critical period in the life of our planet and humanity.
What Coronavirus has done is to show us that it is no respecter of position or wealth, of race or faith. It has shown us we can unite and make big changes. We just need to sustain them in order to sustain each other and our world.