2020 Reflections, Refractions, and Rainbows

The rainbow in my car. Handmade by my sweet cousin.

I’ve always been fascinated by rainbows. When I was a little girl, I believed leprechauns placed pots of gold at the end of every rainbow. I distinctly recall playing in the sprinklers in my back yard and searching for microscopic golden glimmers and the green garbed little men who most certainly guarded them. It’s actually pretty funny now that I think about it. I knew nothing about the science of rainbows except that they could only be seen when the sun was out and it was raining—or in my case, when the sprinklers were going. I’ve learned some things since those days.

Rainbows are a meteorological phenomenon made possible by light. I’m not a scientist, but I understand the basic mechanics of light. In simple terms, the natural light from the sun travels outwardly through space, the atmosphere, and to us. When light is impeded by something with a different frequency, like rain drops, it changes the trajectory and speed of the light. When this happens, the light bends and instead of the white light that comes from the sun, we see different colors—the seven colors of the rainbow.

The most interesting part about rainbows is that each color we see comes from a different droplet of water and we can only see the ones we are positioned to see. If it’s not raining, there will be no rainbow in the sky. If we’re facing the wrong direction, we are likely to see a different set of colors or miss it completely. If it’s dark, it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or not—we won’t see a rainbow at all. Rain, light, and position are all required.

I know you didn’t come here for a science lesson and by no means do I consider my rudimentary explanation of rainbows to be on par with even a budding meteorologist’s understanding, but the rainbow hanging in my car got me thinking about 2020. I started thinking about how this year was one big storm after another. We all suffered in many ways—some exponentially more than others. In the midst of the crap show that was 2020—I am in desperate need of some rainbows. Maybe you are too.

We are essentially talking about perspective. Rainbows are the beautiful things we see as the light attempts to reach our eyes. The colors are already contained in the light, but in order to see the full spectrum, we have to look at it through the rain and mist. If you’ll allow me jump from this metaphor for a moment—could it be that 2020 was the rain through which God (who is our ultimate source of light) shone brightly in order to speak something beautiful?

The same rainbow in the same car—but the other side.

In the quiet moments of the past week, I reflected on 2020 in hope that I might see what God said or did in my own life and in the life of my family. The beautiful thing about reflection is that everyone experiences the same year, but from a different perspective. As I share about the rain and light in my own life, I invite you to do the same and not compare your experience with mine—we are different and it’s okay.

When it rained…
Barf on an airplane
Covid reached our country
School closed and still hasn’t reopened
Family strife lingered
Misunderstandings abounded
So many late assignments
Bickered over nothing
Misinformation circulated
I raged internally
Zoom fatigue
So many changing guidelines
Political unrest
Racial tensions
Riots and looting
Demonstrations
Statues coming down
Bad air quality
Neighborhood shootings
California was literally on fire
It rained ash for weeks
I experienced anxiety for the first time
I lost coworkers
Friends experienced Covid-related deaths
I lost my Grammie
Over 300,000 Covid-related deaths in the U.S.
I cried…a lot

When the light was bright…
I started this blog
Hope reignited
Family trip to Hawai’i (pre-Covid)
I received a tattoo
My husband tried some new things
My colleagues and I pivoted
My kids embraced online school
I maintained good academic standing
I got creative
I read…a lot
I wrote…a lot more
I invested in my writing
Confessed my own biases and wrong thinking
Rediscovered empathy
I listened…a lot more
Spoke up for my beliefs
Stood up for others
I tried to love my neighbor
A vaccine was approved

So what rainbows have I seen?
God is near.
Writing helps me.
No prayer is too bold.
No prayer is insignificant.

When I sin, I am still loved.
God meets me exactly where I am.
Standing up for truth is always worth it.
We all cope with grief and loss differently.
It is perfectly okay to be politically homeless.
People can come together for the greater good.
The greater good is different to different people.
There are beautiful people who are not Christian.
There are Christians are on every side of every issue.
I realized that on some level, that concerns me—that’s okay.
This year was a good year to revisit some old spiritual disciplines.
I remembered that when it seems darkest, God shines the brightest.

I experienced what it truly feels like to allow God to be completely in control.

Ultimately I take comfort in the reality that God is near. In fact, God never left. God is making all things new—me, you, our neighborhoods, our cities, our systems, our ideas, our beliefs, and our world. God is not done yet—thank God because despite the glimmers of hope, it’s still an absolute mess this side of heaven.

Goodbye 2020—thanks for the rain.

Hey, 2021. Wanna play? I’ll bring my rainbows.


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