KAUFMANN: The power to make a rainbow

Published 9:17 am Wednesday, October 14, 2020

In the early days of the pandemic in Italy, quarantined children hung pictures of rainbows from apartment balconies. These bright banners bore the words “Andrà tutto bene,” which means “Everything will be alright.”

Thanks to social media, this colorful message of hope spread quickly across borders and oceans. In Canada, the “Quebec rainbow” inspired the entire nation, accompanied by the French version of the Italian phrase: “Ça va bien aller” (pronounced “sah vah bee-en ah-lay”).

Our region could use an infusion of hope right now, as well. We need some sunshine to break through these stormy, turbulent times and give us a sign that everything will, in fact, be alright.

The story of the first rainbow begins with a man who most likely suffered from PTSD after watching his neighbors perish. If anyone understood quarantine depression, it was this man, who was trapped in a boat for an entire year waiting for the world to return to normal.

With his family. And a literal zoo.

After this man (named Noah) disembarked onto dry ground, God did a lot of talking. He kept reassuring Noah that he would never, ever again destroy the world with a flood. To seal the deal, God revealed a curved, multicolored bow in the clouds as a sign of this promise (Genesis chapter nine, the Bible).

I like to think that after that day, each time Noah saw a rainbow, he would pause from the stressful work of literally rebuilding the world and take a slow, deep breath. A few weeks ago, that is what my neighbors and I did when the sun came out during a soft rain shower here in Michiana. We stopped our work and came outside to marvel at the colorful miracle.

Right now, our lives are dominated by troubling questions. When will COVID-19 be under control? Will the upcoming winter season bring more sickness? How will the elections turn out? Will we be able to work? Will we be safe in our own communities? When will life return to “normal?”

We need more rainbows. We need to know that everything is going to be okay.

The question is, how do we manufacture a rainbow? How can we offer a prism of hope to ourselves, our loved ones, our community?

Yes, we could literally paint pictures, add inspiring words and hang them for all to enjoy. This is an artistic option that children could love and provides cheerful comfort to all.

But the rubber-meets-the-road option is to be kind in each interaction with another human being. In person, on the phone, in our messages, through social media, we can choose to be kind. Sometimes kindness means wearing a mask. Sometimes kindness means donating food or clothing. Sometimes kindness means listening without judgment to someone with a different opinion.

Each kind word and deed brings a bit more light into these dark, uncertain days. One act of kindness may even transform a person’s despair into hope, just as a shaft of sunlight can shine through water droplets to create a miracle.

Together, we have the power to make rainbows.