Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Rainbow in the Cloud ... Day 30

Here we are, October 31, and I am yet to write Days 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29. Day 31 will come tomorrow. It's been a busy, tiring month. But I have stories for you, friends I want you to be better acquainted with, things I am grateful - so grateful! - for. Each day's topic for thankfulness is scheduled before the beginning of October. So if you will indulge me, I will continue on with my list of gratitude into the first days of November.

Rainbows are what I had planned on talking about on the penultimate day of the month. I was going to call the post "Promises, Promises."

Then on Sunday, I went to hear Maya Angelou, the ticket a gift from a sister. Dr Angelou entitled her talk "A Rainbow in the Cloud." As they say, the ancients have stolen our thoughts ...


And God said ..."I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud ..."
(Genesis 9:12-14)

This is how she opened her talk, followed by her singing gently, so softly, almost like she was crooning a lullaby:

 When it looked like the sun wasn't gonna shine any more
God put a rainbow in the cloud ...

"Imagine - just imagine ..." she breathed. And with that, this frail woman, breathless at times herself from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), took command of the room.

"I come here," she went on, "with an attitude of gratitude." And she went on to say how every time she is in Canada she is conscious of how Canada was the safe haven, the "promised land" to freedom for many slaves.

Dr Angelou's own great grandmother was a slave who was emancipated after the Civil War. 

She told us how when she herself was three years old and her brother was four her parents, splitting up, sent their children by themselves on a train going from St Louis to Arkansas - "and we made it!" she chuckled. The two tiny children arrived at the home of her father's mother, Annie Henderson, who owned a general store, the only African American owner of a store in the town of Stamps. "She loved to read - I think she taught me how to read that afternoon!" Her Uncle Willie lived with her and worked at the store too. He was crippled and as a result was often mocked and taunted. He rarely went anywhere other than Stamps. But he taught her her times tables. She could recite them perfectly, she said, because Uncle Willie would hoist her up and hold her near the old pot-bellied stove. "Say your sevenses ... say your elevenses," he would tell her. "I was scared he was going to throw me in if I got them wrong! ... He was a rainbow in my cloud," she said. 

Years later she was on the way back to Stamps, going back for Uncle Willie's funeral. She had to stop in Little Rock and was told there was a man who wanted to meet her. She was introduced to an African American man in a three-piece suit who confirmed she was going to Uncle Willie's funeral. "Stamps has lost a great man today," he intoned. Dr Angelou was slightly bewildered. "Arkansas has lost a great man today," he went on. 

"My Uncle Willie?" she exclaimed.

"The country has lost a great man today," he finished; she had to sit down.

It turned out that this man knew Uncle Willie when the former was just a child. Uncle Willie had found him destitute and gave him some work at the store. He also taught him his times tables. "How did he teach you?!" Dr Angelou asked him. 

This man was now the first African American mayor of Little Rock.

Uncle Willie had been a rainbow in his cloud.

"Each one of us has a chance to be a rainbow in somebody's cloud. Many people don't know who they are; yet if they can be reminded ... they can step up for those who need them most.

"When you learn, teach. When you get, give."

I thought of people in my own life who are rainbows in my cloud. Some of them I have told you about this month; others are chronicled throughout RtL

And of course I thought of Mum, vibrant with all the jewelled tones of her rainbow running through so many people's clouds. She loved rainbows. They were always a confirmation of promise for her.

As the curtains pulled shut after the encore, I turned to the sister with whom I had been sitting and burst into tears.

You see, just three days earlier I had been on a plane from Vancouver to Kamloops. It had been grey clouds the whole way; but suddenly, as we came close to our destination, the sun broke out and every single cloud that I could see from my perch just above them in seat 12A was whorled with a rainbow. "Rainbows in the clouds!" I exclaimed. The man sitting next to me gave me a disdainful look and because of it I became paralyzed, too intimidated to reach under the seat for my camera. I gazed out of the window as the rainbow traipsed from cloud to cloud, lighting each one up with its magic. Too soon the clouds gave way to blue skies, taking the rainbow with them. If it wasn't for the clouds, I wouldn't have seen the rainbow, I realized.

Three days later Dr Angelou finished the lesson I had started to learn that Thursday morning: "When they have enough courage, people can dare to be the rainbow in somebody's cloud."

I have no excuse not to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. So much has been given me; and "to whom much is given much shall be required," the book of Luke chapter 12 verse 48 advises. 

This evening I want to give particular thanks to four rainbows in my cloud on Sunday: my two sisters who were with me on this memorable occasion, and my two sisters who ran the TH for me so that I could go.

You four are a quadruple rainbow in my cloud. I would be lost without you.

(All rainbow pictures were taken by me in Alberta.)


  1. Very special. So truth-filled.

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. Beautiful article, and fabulous rainbow shots, Karyn!


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