I am told that the most popular song of all time is ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.
You don’t need me to remind you the most famous rendition of the song by Judy Garland was specifically composed for her role of Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz”. The classic colour version 1939 film has spellbound viewers for eighty years and inspired the imagination of many artistic directors. To my knowledge, it has never been recreated as a faithful re-telling, though there are around 50 spin-offs, animations and even steam punk stage adaptations.
It is as if its subject matter were somehow sacred.
The song’s poignancy is universal. Let me suggest why this might be.
In the words of philospher Goethe in his philosophy on colour, “colours are the deeds and sufferings of light“.
What arrogance I would betray, to try and do justice here to any of the theories and philosphies of colour and light, be they physical, scientific or metaphysical. So, I will keep it simple, even if a metaphor is barely sufficient to illustrate the point.
Goethe did not trouble himself with the physics of light and Newtonian theory explaining it. Instead he concentrated on the way we see colour.
The way we see life and the way we see our circumstances is what colours our personal world.
Imagine a beam of light as the impact of the world upon you – its news, the relationships around you, their demands and supply, the stressors of life especially as they have presented themselves this year. It enters your perspective or worldview, your raindrop, lens or prism.
Depending upon the angle of your view, this shaft of light may break into its compenent parts and fracture into a spectrum of ethereal beauty and purity.
Source light is radiant, practical and necessary. It illuminates and directs, reveals and assures direction and adventure. When it hits a barrier or passes through a plane, the beam’s integrity is bent and the components arrayed in their individual qualities as a rainbow.
Why are we fascinated by rainbows?
And why are they so closely associated with the ever popular unicorn of fantasy and fairytales?
Rainbows are central to any tale of the battle between good and evil, whether it be the generous service of NHS heroes of the UK’s 2020 Covid-19 response, a faith based response to the horrors of terrorism or the Biblical sign of a promise from God to Noah. We are built for hope, we need to believe there is more. Even beyond the range of the naked eye, there is more. We still gather assurance that there will never again be a world-changing catastrophe on the scale of the great Flood.
Your bending and breaking reveal deeper elements of character
Your suffering is the genesis of hope – hope in the colour and form of a rainbow.
It is not to be avoided but confronted. Rather than being masochistic matrydom, it is absorbed, then refracted as confident assurance; redefined as expectant hope.
In 1939, a calamitous war broke out against the evil of racism, dictatorship, genocide and power-mongering. The song was of its time. But every time needs its song and in singing this we express something of the yearning for our true selves to be revealed as only humans will, through fracturing and bending, testing and enduring.
What is your song?
You can make it your melody line, to capture the fleeting glimpse of a better tomorrow in declaring your hope.
Ariana Grande revealed ‘Over the Rainbow’ is her grandpa’s favorite. She would sing it to him at home when she was younger. “He would always tell me to sing it in my concerts. He would always say, ‘You know what you should end with? ‘Over the Rainbow’. And I never did it until that moment” That moment of course, was the year’s anniversary of the Manchester bombing in which 22 lost their lives at her fated concert in 2017. As she sang to the memorial crowds, she broke down because “all of those people were able to turn something that represented the most heinous of humanity into something beautiful and unifying and loving.” (Tanzer 2018 for NME)
Can I encourage you today to allow your heart to yearn for more.
Even if it has been broken.
Because it was broken, it will radiate something way more powerful than it ever could have done intact.