Today we had intermittent rain shows and sun… which means, a great opportunity for rainbows! I ran out with my camera and got some photos, including these:
This one is a panorama, stitched together from three photos:
Seeing this rainbow today was significant for me. To explain why, I am republishing a post from last summer, with an addition at the end, and a poll.
[My old post starts here:]
As with all natural events, there are two (not incompatible) ways of looking at rainbows. One is the scientific approach: rainbows are an optical phenomenon due to the refraction and reflection of light rays in airborne water droplets. The other is the “faith” approach: within God’s all-encompassing providential plan (which includes events governed by natural laws, of which He is ultimately the author), is there some particular reason why I am seeing this rainbow now? This question may sound silly to some people, but if we believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient then it is not unreasonable. [Plus, God uses the rainbow as a sign for Noah in the Old Testament...] We should not look for signs everywhere – it can be exaggerated and silly – but we should not exclude them either.
I have seen – and photographed – more rainbows in the past 6 months than I have seen for years at a time. It seems that rainbows have marked each step on my journey from the community of the Legion of Christ in Thornwood, NY, to my current ministry in (relatively) upstate NY.
In March, I went from Thornwood to Ireland on sabbatical to work on my doctoral thesis and discern God’s will for me in the current circumstances of the Legion. In a moment of discouragement, I looked out my window and saw this partial rainbow (on the right-hand side of the photo):
In May, I moved on to Switzerland to continue my sabbatical, and on one of my first days there, I saw this rainbow behind our house (note the faint second rainbow further out):
After much prayer and reflection I felt that God was calling me to continue my priestly ministry outside the Legion of Christ, at least for the moment, so I went home to northeastern Connecticut. There, I saw this double rainbow above my house:
In June, I settled on coming to start process of incardination in the archdiocese of New York. After the necessary meetings I was assigned to St Patrick’s in Newburgh, NY, where I arrived three weeks ago. This past Sunday afternoon I was driving to visit a sick friend in upstate New York, and I ended up seeing this incredible double rainbow “following” me along the highway:
I’m not a fanatic when it comes to these things, but if rainbows can be signs, I might be at an intersection.
All photos © Matthew Green
[End old post]
So, today’s rainbow was meaningful to me. I haven’t seen another rainbow like this since my last (above-quoted) post on the topic last August. But now, I’ve been praying to God asking for guidance for an important decision. I’ve also been asking myself and God, “what would or should I consider a sign to know if this decision is God’s will for me?” Seeing this rainbow today could just be a coincidence, of course. However, considering the fact that I posted less than a year ago about rainbows as possible signs from God in the context of decisions like the one I’m making now… seeing one again, right now, when I’ve been praying for a sign, seems like it could be significant. It’s not like I’ve been looking for a rainbow in this case; honestly, I was not even remotely thinking about a rainbow as a candidate for a sign. I was thinking about something more rational and pragmatic. So this just seems, well, fishy.
What do you think? In your opinion, does God use natural phenomena like rainbows as signs in the world today? or is this just an example of reading meaning and order in unrelated events, according to a previously existing psychological bias? Vote, and comment!