August 12, 2010

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

This summer my life has taken on the nature of an explorer's life. Or maybe, more accurately, a seeker's life. Well, we're all seekers, I guess, though it seems we often don't really know what it is that we're seeking. We're just out there, somewhere, looking around for some kind of treasure, and we really don't know what it will look like. But sometimes we do know what to look for, or, if we're lucky enough to stumble on a treasure, we at least do recognize it when we actually find it. Anyway, like the 49ers who came to California during the gold rush, I have been wandering the Sierra Nevada mountains this summer, and other less obvious places, looking for that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Anyone who's paid attention knows that rainbows generally appear after a storm. Those familiar with the story of Noah may also remember that, after the great flood, God designated the rainbow as a sign of the covenant pledged by God to all creatures, and to the earth; It was a covenant not to destroy us with the storms he sends. See Genesis 9.

This past weekend I was up at Lake Tahoe, on the northwest shore of the lake, preparing to take some hikes and continue my seeking journey. I had just checked in to a hotel in Tahoe City, right across the street from the shore of Lake Tahoe, and a BIG storm was blowing in across the lake. The wind was blowing hard from southeast to northwest, right into my face as I stood on the sidewalk facing east to the lake. Debris from the trees across the street was flying, whipping into my face and past me like little missles. The sky over me was gray, but the sky over the lake was black and rain was falling so hard on the lake you could hardly see the water, and you couldn't see the eastern shore or the mountains behind it.

The wind howled through the pines making rushing and roaring sounds as it bent them precariously toward the street, and the leaves of the aspen trees chattered violently. People scurried left and right, rushing to find shelter from the imminent storm, as big drops of rain began to splatter the sidewalks and streets of Tahoe City. A man hurried by me and our eyes met, and he said "where'd the good weather go?" He passed by quickly and didn't wait for my answer. Another man in a car, stopped by traffic, rolled down his window, feeling the storm, and he looked at me with a sheepish smile and shrugged. Whitecaps on the water rocked the moored boats and pounded the shore, as lightning flashed and thunder cracked. A young couple hurried by, and the girl was holding down her short skirt with both hands to keep it from blowing up. The boy with her was greatly amused. A flock of geese flew by, over the road and toward the lake. They flew into the wind as if in slow motion, flapping hard yet barely moving.

Then the heavens opened up and rain poured down and drenched the streets and shores and hills surrounding Tahoe City. Rain cascaded off the roofs like waterfalls and the water gathered itself in pools and then gushed into the gutters, as people stood in doorways, or clustered under shelter, and talked and laughed over the roar of wind and water as they watched the storm and exulted in the excitement of the moment. At the other end of the parking lot two girls in bikinis ran out of their room, into the middle of the parking lot, and danced in the rain as people watched, and the lady next to me laughed and said "you know, my daughter always over packs, and now she is telling me 'mom, I didn't bring any pants, what am I gonna' do?'"

The wind on the leading edge of the storm blew hard from southeast to northwest, and the first rain to fall was driven hard in the same direction. But as the storm progressed, the rain slackened and fell straight down, and then slackened again and fell gently from northwest to southeast. There was no lightning that we could see after the heart of the storm passed by, but peals of thunder continued to roll and people continued to scurry by, getting soaked by the rain but smiling and laughing at their plight, and at the delight of the moment. And to punctuate the delight of the moment, the girls in bikinis ran back into the parking lot for their "so you think you can dance" encore.

Despite the happy mood, one older man wearing nice clothes jogged by and he didn't look happy at all. He had on expensive slacks, dress shoes, and a light yellow knitted shirt, and his clothes were sopping wet and his wet hair hung down on his forehead in streaks, pointing to angry eyes and an angry face that found no pleasure in the moment.

At nearly that moment of the angry man's passing by, the sun broke out from below the clouds and above the ridge of mountains on the western horizon lighting up the lake and the city and the surrounding mountains, and a brilliant double rainbow appeared over the lake. And then the Tahoe Queen appeared, gleaming white at the base of the southernmost rainbow. And during that brief moment of tension between the storm and the clearing, between the darkness and the light, between unhappiness and joy, I revelled in the light and the rainbow, and the sighting of the Tahoe Queen, and the joy I was feeling. And I recalled the promises of God. And suddenly I knew, without a doubt, that I had come to the right place to find my treasure.


And here is a special treasure for you. It's my new, favorite version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. It's a must-listen, must-see video. Turn your sound on and enjoy!


  1. Oh, George... you just hit on my newest love...Israel Kamakawiwo'ole! I received (per my request) one of his CD's for Christmas, and I've since bought two more. What an amazingly beautiful voice! And as was mentioned about him on one of the CD's, he had a heart 10 times bigger than he was (and that's mighty BIG)! What a shame that he died of complications due to his weight. The world lost one of Hawaii's best.

    I also was watching a storm last night, from the inside of our machine shed where I barely made it from mowing lawn. It was quite an experience, also, as I watched the wind take off one of the (15' x 15'?) doors and rip it apart. Other than that, all's well. But I didn't find any treasure after it was over. ;)

  2. It is those who are looking for the treasure who will find it. The man who already had what he thought was treasure - his pants, his shoes, etc. - finds no joy in being rained upon, thinking only of having to buy new or whatever his negative thoughts might have been.

    This song is one of my faves - however it is sung. I also like ABBA's "I have a dream..." because both songs have lyrics that move toward 'what may be,' not about the state of 'what is.'