I was on my way home after running errands all afternoon one day last week. As usual, I looked straight ahead as I walked, mentally going through my list of still-to-do’s. I stopped at the traffic lights, waiting for the green man to appear so I could cross over to the neighbourhood supermarket to grab some things before rushing home to complete a few more tasks before dinner.
I grimaced slightly as aching muscles and stiff joints made themselves known, and made a mental note to stop by the ATM for a quick cash withdrawal before grocery shopping. Then I continued to tick off what else I needed to do, planning my schedule for the rest of the week and the next. I was vaguely aware of the chatter of two young children who, with their mother, were standing in front of me, waiting to cross the road; paid no heed to the boisterous conversation among a group of teenaged schoolboys who had just come out of the nearby McDonalds and were now behind me; barely noticed the muted roar of traffic as vehicles continued to speed past.
Impatiently, I looked at the lights to see if they had changed. They hadn’t. Casually, I glanced up … and caught my breath.
About six inches above my eye level, right across the road, was a glorious rainbow. I wondered how I could have missed seeing it while I was walking towards the crossing. After all, it had been right in front of me all the time.
Every colour of each band was clearly delineated, and as I gazed at it in delighted wonder, I felt my spirits lift. The aches and pains that had been troubling me melted away as if by magic. The to-do list I had been struggling with didn’t seem as long or important as it had just seconds ago. I felt as if a heavy veil that had been weighing me down and blurring my vision had been removed.
All at once, everything looked clearer and brighter. I could hear the birds in the trees, smell the rain-washed freshness of the air. Belatedly, I remembered that it had rained earlier, and I finally registered the fact that the roads as well as the pavement were still wet.
I saw the little girls in front clasp their mother’s hands as they excitedly named the colours of the rainbow; sensed the obvious enjoyment that the teenagers derived from one another’s company. And then the traffic lights changed.
I kept my eyes on the rainbow for as long as I could as I crossed the road. But all too soon, I was on the other side, and that gorgeous arc was out of my range of vision.
I continued on my way, for I still had much to do. But now I had a spring in my step, a lightness in my heart, renewed clarity of vision.
I knew now that I had been looking down at my feet, paying attention only to what was right in front of my nose, focusing so much on my physical limitations and day-to-day challenges that I had – without realising it – allowed my frustrations and fears to trap me within a self-built, enclosed cell that made me blind, deaf and numb to the beauty and joy that is all around me.
All it took was for the angels to make me pause, tilt my head towards heaven and find, once more, proof of God’s magnitude and grace … just six inches above eye level.
How grateful I am for that.