Within a Rainbow

The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).

Rainbow stepped from the shelter of the wigwam just as the soft summer rain stopped. Turning her face to the sun and closing her dark eyes, she took a deep breath. Everything smelled fresh and new after a rain.

“I see Rainbow enjoys the scent of the earth after its bath too.” Rainbow didn’t have to look to see who had spoken to her, for she knew well the voice of her great-grandfather.

“Oh, Great-Grandfather, isn’t it lovely!” she exulted. Her delight in it was even greater now that she was sharing it with the person she loved most.

Great-Grandfather nodded. He patted the ground, inviting Rainbow to sit with him. “That which you are named after is especially beautiful this day,” he said, looking above the tall trees to the colored arch stretching across the sky.

Rainbow loved the many colors of the rainbow, but every time she saw one, she was reminded of her own plainness. She felt her spirits sinking, and the world no longer seemed as lovely as it had a short time ago.

Sensing Rainbow’s mood changing, Great-Grandfather asked, “Why do you grow sad?” When she didn’t answer, they both sat in silence. He would let her decide when the time was right for talking.

This was Rainbow’s thirteenth summer, and her sorrow grew deeper with each one. The daughter of a Sioux chief, she was proud of her heritage, yet …

“Great-Grandfather, Running Antelope is able to run with the swiftness of an antelope, isn’t he?”

Great-Grandfather gave Rainbow his complete attention, “Yes, he is as quick and surefooted as an antelope.”

“My other brother, Red Fox, is skillful and cunning.”

“As the red fox is, so is he.”

While they talked, Rainbow had been watching the multicolored rainbow grow pale and fade away. I wish that I, too, could fade away, she thought. “Great-Grandfather, on the day of my birth, you chose my name. Is that not true?”

“That is true.”

Picking at the fringe on her dress, Rainbow whispered sadly, “But the rainbow is beautiful.”

“Yes, it is beautiful—as are you.”

She was surprised at his answer. No one had ever told her that she was beautiful, and she knew why. She was not beautiful; not even pretty.

“Great-Grandfather, I love you for saying so, but I am plain, and I know it.”

The old man rose on wavering legs. He paused, letting his limbs gain strength. “Stay here; I will return.”

Lost in her misery, Rainbow hardly noticed his absence. It haunted her that she couldn’t live up to her name as her brothers lived up to theirs.

She was shaken out of her thoughts when something was pressed into her hand. Looking up, she found Great-Grandfather had returned. He squatted beside her and said, “As a child, you received joy from this. Do you remember?”

She nodded, gazing at the smooth object she held. The solid glass bar had three sides, each end exactly like the other. It was transparent, but by holding it just right, she could see the seven colors of the rainbow reflected on a boulder or on the side of the wigwam.

“I have had this many years,” Great-Grandfather told her. “When you were a baby and I first held you, I knew you to be as this glass.”

Rainbow looked at him in wonder. “How can that be?”

“The glass, though attractive, is plain. Its beauty is hidden, yet is always there. To me, you are beautiful. I see the colors of the rainbow within you. They radiate your inner beauty with every smile and every tear for others.”

Rainbow threw her arms around him. “I love you, Great-Grandfather!”

“And I love you, beautiful Rainbow.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Mike Eagle