Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
Rainbows are happy things. Their beauty fills us with wonder. They inspire our dreams and hopes for a brighter future. This was my third attempt to paint a rainbow. An earlier attempt was to put my own spin on the quintessential “happy” rainbow. It turned out very nice, and would go great in any child’s room or Sunday school class. But happy rainbows didn’t seem to satisfy me. They didn’t seem consistent with the context of the story. The story of Noah is one of great sorrow, loss and healing. I wanted to paint Noah’s rainbow—a sign of remembrance.
We are so tempted to cuddle up with the animals and bask in rainbow colors with our children. But recent natural disasters in our world awaken the realities of Noah’s story for me. I imagine the rainbow that Noah saw felt more like a peace offering. An assurance that this kind devastation would never happen again. An encouragement to a survivor trying to live in a “new normal.”
We assume the rainbow is meant to be a reminder for us alone. But the story repeatedly says that the covenant was established between God and humanity and ALL living creatures of every kind. It also proclaims that when the rainbow appears, GOD remembers the covenant as well. We see a rainbow and remember a story with a promise. God sees a rainbow and remembers an event and a bond with all creation—even to creatures who could never ponder the depth of such a sign.
So, I tried to paint God’s covenantal sign. The sign that appears after the storm—transforming chaos into peace and fear into hope. A loving reminder for God and all of God’s creatures on this earth. Our rainbow.