Yesterday, Soul Fry and I spent a few hours or so helping our adopted Nana, my former sixth grade elementary teacher, with yard work. While we worked, we talked about race. There is no conversation more important right now. Nana, like so many of us, is heartbroken and angry. She's been here before. She was in college during Civil Rights. She sheltered her young black students in a Roxbury school during the 1968 riots. She attended protest planning meetings in Boston, sitting right next to Malcolm X. Then she came back home to Plymouth, eventually, and taught right here in our white little town for 40 years or so, right at Nathaniel Morton Elementary. She felt she was helping to change the world in the 1960s. And though it may not have felt as electric as the '60s, she continued to do so into the next several decades, right here, at home, opening many minds and changing many lives. She sure changed mine.
It was nearly sunset when we left Nana. As we approached our house, I looked at our granite post and wondered what kind of rainbow I could put there. A sign of hope, and a sign to say that all are welcome. Thinking of rainbows, I turned into our driveway and I happened to look up. There, in the orange sky, no rain in sight, a sunset rainbow. A sunset rainbow. I have spent the last week writing about hope, and chaos, and diversity, and about Noah—and there, right while I'm thinking about Pride Month, and protests for justice, and what kind of rainbow I needed, the universe answered. This kind, it said. The free kind, the one I have been giving you since the beginning.
|My roof; not my rainbow.|
Reverend Question Mark told me, "There's your sign." Janice would say the same. Me? I said, "Eff off, Universe. I'm busy." Except I didn't mean it. I grabbed the youngfella and stood in the backyard with my camera phone and tried to capture the beauty in 0s and 1s, to no avail. Then Soul Daddy and I had a perfectly lovely evening, sitting on the patio and chatting 'til even the mosquitos went to bed. As I hit the sack, I looked at Facebook. Lots of people saw the rainbow, as it turns out, and they posted pictures to prove it. So it wasn't just my sign. It was everyone's sign.
You know, I love my gay friends. But I often joke that they stole my g! d! rainbow! My. Rainbow. I've been obsessed with rainbows since the 1970s, when we bought the transparent rainbow decal at the Egloff's health food store on Sandwich Street. We wore Mork rainbow suspenders over white shirts with rainbows across the chest, watched rainbows dance across the walls of our rooms through the glass prisms from the rainbow store upstairs at Quincy Market. It was the late 70s. Rainbows were a thing—but no particular meaning. Just beauty. And color.
But last night's rainbow? Very particular meaning. There is beauty in color. ALL COLOR. And the lesson: It's not just my rainbow. It's everyone's rainbow. Those old rainbow shirts - I look back and see that they were a hug. The colors across the heart and down the arms: the color says everyone. Just imagine the richness of that embrace.