I didn’t know such a thing existed until I saw it in the wild.
Even then, it was difficult to believe my eyes. It looked like a rainbow, but it was completely white. It even had a fainter, secondary rainbow beneath the full one. The picture above doesn’t do it justice.
I found it while walking with Zoey a few weeks ago in the open land behind our neighborhood. It confused me at first, wondering if it really was a rainbow. We were in the early morning mist not far from Mt. Boney. As I crested a hill, I saw it stretched across the grasslands—a pure white arc of reflected light. Startled, I tried to figure out what it was while it accompanied us on our walk for almost fifteen minutes. I even got close to one end, but it stayed just out of reach until it vanished.
I didn’t know if this was a natural phenomenon or if a divine moment was afoot, like the burning bush. The air was electric, my heart quivering in the exquisite beauty of this unique rainbow and the God behind it. But what was I seeing? Was it real? The moment was exhilarating, and while I looked for some glorious revelation beyond the rainbow, none came.
I could think of little else on my way home, where I searched the web to see if there was such a thing as a white rainbow. To my delight, I found there was. They are also called fogbows or ghost rainbows. They are rare, only forming when the sun is low, and the droplets in the mist are not large enough to split the sunlight into the tell-tale colors of the rainbow.
No one I’ve shared this with has ever seen or heard of a white rainbow, which made me feel less like I had missed something in my science classes. Knowing it was a natural-occurring event that others had observed did not rob my wonder. On several occasions, I have seen something so surprising it takes my breath away—a shooting star across a dark, alpine sky, the immensity of the Grand Canyon, the brilliant colors of fall in New England, or a little green iridescent fish swimming by my face mask in Hawaii. This was that kind of experience.
Seeing a pure white rainbow for the first time still makes my heart happy—the glory of God shining through a thin space in his Creation. He seemed particularly close at hand, though I know he was no more present there with it than the many other times I’ve walked those fields.
That’s what I love about this fantastic Creation we live in. There is a ton of pain in this broken world, yet now and then, we catch a glimpse of extraordinary beauty that harkens our hearts to a better day yet to come. You can never be sure what you might see on any given day that can turn your heart to him in a fresh way.
That I would come across a white rainbow at that time in that place, felt like God playing with me a little bit.
And I love it when God plays with me.