Look at the rainbow, and praise him who made it; it is exceedingly beautiful in its brightness. It encircles the sky with its glorious arc; the hands of the Most High have stretched it out.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Sirach 43:11-12 (NRSV) – November 4, 2014)
Today in the US is the midterm election. I live in a decidedly “red” state with very little chance than any state office or congress seat currently held by the GOP will go to another party, partly because the Democrats chose a less-than-stellar gubernatorial candidate, partly because of gerrymandering, and partly because the Republicans simply predominate in most of the rural ad small-town electorate. Nonetheless, I will go to the polls and cast my “progressive” ballot and hope that elsewhere in the country things may be different.
What I hope most (and pray for) is that at some time in our national political future there will be a rainbow! That there will be an end to the rancorous, uncivil, winner-take-all, scorched-earth, no-compromise politics that has characterized this country for the past two decades, or longer…. When did it start, this deluge of polarization? I think it’s probably always been there at the fringes, but it seems to me it began moving to the center during the Nixon administration, arrived center-stage during the Clinton years, and has simply parked there ever since, the way a weather system can park over an area for days (in this case decades) at a time, bringing wave after wave of torrential downpour.
One of my favorite poems about rain is The Rainy Day by Rabindranath Tagore, who paints a dismal and scary picture of a village in monsoon season:
Sullen clouds are gathering fast
over the black fringe of the forest.
O child, do not go out!
The palm trees in a row by the lake
are smiting their heads
against the dismal sky;
the crows with their dragged wings
are silent on the tamarind branches,
and the eastern bank of the river
is haunted by a deepening gloom.
Our cow is lowing loud, tied at the fence.
O child, wait here till I bring her into the stall.
Men have crowded into the flooded field
to catch the fishes
as they escape from the overflowing ponds;
the rain-water is running in rills
through the narrow lanes like a laughing boy
who has run away from his mother to tease her.
Listen, someone is shouting for the boatman at the ford.
O child, the daylight is dim,
and the crossing at the ferry is closed.
The sky seems to ride fast upon the madly rushing rain;
the water in the river is loud and impatient;
women have hastened home
early from the Ganges
with their filled pitchers.
The evening lamps must be made ready.
O child, do not go out!
The road to the market is desolate,
the lane to the river is slippery.
The wind is roaring and struggling
among the bamboo branches
like a wild beast tangled in a net.
My feeling is that our monsoon of incivility, our rainy season of political polarization has had a similar effect on our national village; our sky is sullen, our roads are desolate, our lanes are slippery, and madly rushing political “rain” has made the river of democracy loud, impatient, and dangerous. My hope and my prayer is that it will end and we will see a rainbow.
My main thought for the day is contrary to Tagore’s, however: “O child, do go out!” Go out and vote!
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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.