"Look up; do you see the beautiful rainbow?" "I see my rainbow in the clouds to serve a sign of the covenant between me and the earth" (Genesis 9:13). "If you walk to the end of that rainbow, you will find a bright shiny "pot of gold." I heard those quotes from my mother often as I was being reared on a farm in Southern Missouri where fluffy, white cotton grew. My mother possessed a profound talent for sparking imaginations in a manner that caused my brother and I to dream massive dreams in a grand fashion. Because we were poor, many times dreams were all we possessed. As a child, I stood in awe of every rainbow that I beheld. I wondered how I could eventually get to the end of that rainbow to find my pot of gold. I imagined and questioned myself: What would be the appearance of the pot and for what would I spend gold? Wow!
As I matured, I finally grasped the fact that my mother would quote that phrase when azshe was prompting my brother and me to continue to work, and especially preserve, in a difficult and enduring task. Those moments were when we complained of experiencing the pain of exhaustion resulting from the drudgery of work. As the rainbow arc of colors sprawled across the sky, she never ceased to ask the same question. "Do you see that rainbow over there?" "Well, just keep working and soon you will reach the end. THERE, you will find a pot of gold." Of course the procuring of a pot of gold was enough to make any child work with robust enthusiasm, precision and rapidity. What a shrewd mother gave birth to me!
As I matured still further into adulthood I realized I could search beyond the universe and travel numerous distances to reach the end of whatever rainbow I was chasing, and still fail to reach my pot of gold. Merely the sight of a rainbow and my scurrying to reach its end had nothing to do with acquiring a pot of gold -- or did it? I pondered and meditated upon this question, and finally discerned it depended on of what my pot of gold consisted. If it were filled to the brim with merely money, possessions, or other material wealth, I would not find that sort of gold at the end of any colorful stream of colors teasing me from the sky. However, if my gold consisted of the acquisition of spiritual wisdom, inner beauty and other Christ-like qualities, I very well may find it there. But before I could attain even those attributes as my pot of gold, I wondered where was the end of the rainbow so that I might find those treasures.
As I continued to ponder and listen for further guidance from subconscious, then conscious insights, I came to the realization that if I were to reach the end of "my" rainbow and find "my" pot of gold, it must surely be lurking in the spiritual realm. "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God." I contemplated that my rainbow would stretch the full distance of my life span and, consequently, I concluded that I must never lose heart, regardless of how exhausted I may become. I would endeavor to follow the road where Jesus trod. There I would find my pot of gold -- the pot of gold that consisted of eternal life with God. I reasoned that if I continued to grow closer to God as I journeyed through life, and practiced His virtues, out of love, which Christ taught, then I would ultimately possess the greatest gold of all. At the end of my rainbow I would acquire the kingdom of heaven for all of eternity: "And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is his son," (John 5:11).
In retrospect, I now know that a pot of gold truly does reside at the end of my rainbow. My mother knew exactly the content of her expressions. She did not mean that I would acquire a material pot of bright yellow gold in a shiny bronze pot. But instead she knew, from the depths of her wisdom, if I would preserve in living a spiritually good life, I would indeed find my pot of gold -- but at the end of a very different kind of rainbow. I would attain the light of eternal life situated at the end of my rainbow.
Now that I am the mother of young adults, I remember asking my children the same question that my mother asked my brother and me. When they became tired and discouraged, and saw a rainbow lounging lazily across the sky, I would inquire, "Do you see that beautiful rainbow over there? If you walk to the end of it you will surely find a pot of gold." I still jokingly recite the same phrases to them occasionally, but I now add, "What rainbow are you following, and of what does your pot of gold consist?"
Ellen Shuck is a member of St. Mary's parish, where she is director of religious education.