Last night as we drove up to evening church service there was a rainbow arcing over the church. It was quite brilliant and visible for about two thirds of the way up. My thought process went something like this:
Wow, look at that. Light from the sun is hitting that falling rain at the precise angle to refract it into the visible spectrum, reflect it off the back of the drop of water, and refract it again on the way to me eyeball. Cool. If I was in an airplane I might see a rain-ring, which is something I've always wanted to see.
Then I turned to my wife, who had tears in her eyes.
"That's God's promise," she said.
Years ago, when we knew only that she likely had cancer and not much else, we returned from a trip to Champaign that featured a day filled with poking and probing and the drawing of blood and testing. We were uptight, scared and unsure. We sought comfort from our pastor and his wife. Somewhere along the line my wife and the pastor's wife saw a rainbow. The pastor's wife said something like this:
See that? That's God's Promise. In the bible it tells us that God made rainbows to remind us of his promise never to flood the earth again. I see it and am reminded that God is still in control, that he still has a plan, and he's still watching over me.
My wife hadn't forgotten that, since she's the one that had the cancer. I hadn't forgotten it either, but then it didn't mean as much to me. It meant a lot in that it helped her deal with what was going on, and still helps her deal with things today.
I want to say that she got more out of the experience than I did, but further thought revealed that we were both missing something in the process. By ignoring the spiritual, I was limiting the impact of a simple rainbow on my psyche that day. And by ignoring the scientific, my wife missed a chance to appreciate the fundamental laws of physics and nature in action. Who missed more? For me, it is hard to say. But I'm certain my wife would say that i was missing the point entirely.