I’ve been thinking about rainbows. Actually I’ve been thinking about storms, Creston, our economic prophets, unemployment, the equity markets, real estate, Sierra Leone, Pastor Samuel Menyongar, and “beautiful prisons.” Last Friday when I returned home from Headon’s August steak fry I saw a rainbow. It really hit me hard. I just had to stop my car and look. I actually got teary eyed. It was so beautiful. It was perfect. It was the first one I had seen since my heart/ infection ordeal of a year ago. It really got me TH*NK*NG about so many things in a totally different way.
You see, there are so much more to rainbows than merely the arch of the spectrum of colors caused by sunlight being broken up by micro droplets of water vapor after a storm. We had had quite a rain, but the tables and chairs at the steak fry were protected by five tents and everybody really enjoyed their meal and the conversations that ensued. The rainbow wasn’t visible from downtown Creston, but it was just a few blocks away. I thought about the story of Noah, the flood, and how rainbows were a promise from GOD of better times to come, that the worst was over, and that we would survive. That’s a beautiful thing. It gives us hope and security about what will come to be.
Mankind traditionally looks for a better tomorrow. When times get tough, looking optimistically for happier, more prosperous, times keeps us going. We had been told by the economic prophets of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Treasury, and the Federal Reserve Bank how we had turned the corner, that the recovery was in progress, and that our recession/ depression was over. Well; “Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream.” (Jeremiah 23) The numbers reported by them “proved” this. Our debts WERE being paid. Problem was that the debts were being paid by still more debts. Our benevolent Uncle $ugar (meaning the U.S. Taxpayers) was assuming the debts of the Wall Street investment banks, the money center banks, and scores of troubled banks across the nation. Not much came to mainstreet individual citizens. The debt and write downs of Wall Street were being warehoused by Uncle, they hadn’t gone away; they were just relocated for dealing with at a later time. “They do not know, neither do they understand; they go about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.” (Psalm 82)
Last week FED Chairman Ben (Bernanke) and Treasury Secretary Timmy (Geithner) had to recant on previously released numbers. They did NOT want to do this, but they had NO choice. It was truly a negative grand slam. Unemployment numbers were significantly larger than what had been reported (for months), almost 3/4ths of recent college grads had returned home to live with their parents, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were going to need still yet another multi BILLION dollar bail out, foreclosures were at record numbers, and we “may” be headed for yet a second dip. (This was clearly a case of tell us something we didn’t already know.) The equity markets responded downward. “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens... You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the Earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Luke 12)
When I was in high school, my favorite history teacher Marguerite Thomas often talked about little Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa. She would use this little country in comparison to the much larger and wealthier United States. Sierra Leone has a little over 5.2 MILLION people. At 42.6 years, their average life expectancy puts them at number 191 out of the 194 countries ranked worldwide. Less than 4% even make it to age 65. (The United States’ life expectancy presently comes in at 78.2 years ranking 38th.) Sierra Leone has been involved in civil war for decades. Blood diamonds are part of their reality. Terrorism and killing are daily occurrences. Death and destruction are part of the lives of every citizen. They need a rainbow. They need lots of rainbows in this little African nation.
Sunday at St. Johns Lutheran Church in Creston, Sierra Leone finally had a face. Pastor Samuel Menyongar, one of a team of fourteen pastors who preach across this nation, came to speak before our congregation and guests. He spoke of the amputee camps and the hospitals, the new water wells, the clothing, foodstuffs, books and school supplies donated by American churches via Touch the Nations, an organization founded by Katja Starkey of Omaha, Nebraska who has family roots in St. Johns in my little Creston, Illinois. He spoke of his visit to the United States and noted our beautiful prisons. That choice of words struck me hard --- yes, I guess on a relative basis, even our prisons are “beautiful” here.
Rainbows are the truly beautiful things. They are symbolic of conclusions, of hope, of promise, and of better things to come. We need rainbow(s) now. We need a lot of rainbows. “Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly. There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby...”
I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.
Copyright 2009 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at email@example.com.
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This story was published on August 16, 2010.