On Monday morning, I drove to work through rainbows.
Not literally, although between the sudden emergence of the sun and the rapid disappearance of the fog, I expected to see the real thing at any time.
But I saw the colors anyway. After two days of horrific rain, gray skies, front yards turned into silver lakes, and the black moods of my cabin-fever fellas, I was ready for a little color in my life -- proof that life does go on, even after devastation.
We had it lucky in Tullahoma -- it seemed as if we were in a magic bubble, forcing the worst of the weather either north or south of us. We lost a few branches and got a good rain, but it was a light summer sprinkling compared to what Nashville or even Shelbyville got. I was glued to the television all weekend long, worried about my son and his girlfriend and my sister- and brother-in-law, all living in or near Goodlettsville.
I fretted about all of my Nashville, the Boro, Smyrna and La Vergne friends from my Gannett days, and my heart broke for those who lost their homes, their belongings, their loved ones in the storm. Or their jobs -- my son's girlfriend works at the Rivergate Michaels that was hit by a tornado on Friday night. Worked.
But on Monday morning, with the sun fierce and bright in an impossibly blue sky, it all seemed so surreal and so far away. There was little obvious damage on my drive in and the only thing I saw really out of the ordinary was the massive flock of vultures on the bridge between downtown Bell Buckle and Cascade School.
It was as though my senses were on overload. I noticed things I might not have otherwise -- the red-winged blackbird singing about triumph and survival as he clung to a stalk of winter wheat that had not been beaten down by the storm, and the no-nonsense power strokes of two Canada geese, rowing through the air at 40 miles per hour beside my van.
I saw a black and white cat stalking something in the tall grass, each blade beaded in diamonds, the cat a study in absolutes. I watched a glossy bay mare graze, her swollen sides rippling with the movement of her unborn foal.
It was all about life.
I saw a headline last week that made me laugh: "Noah's Ark discovered. Again." It seems that every decade or so, someone claims to have discovered the ark, and that someone is usually discredited, and someone else continues the search. I'm more the type that believes faith doesn't need tangible proof, so I've always wondered why the ark holds such fascination.
I understood Monday morning.
It was all about life.
Finding the ark means finding proof that we can overcome the worst the world has to throw at us -- a massive flood that destroys everything we once held dear, waters that wash away the known world. A petrified piece of gopher wood means God was with us then and is with us now and no matter how the waters get, will be with us forever.
The rainbow that greeted Noah to dry land was just a reminder.
The rainbow of irises that paraded beside the roads I drove Monday morning, vibrant in purple, gold, white and deep, deep red, were just reminders. The liquid songs of the red-winged blackbirds and the meadowlarks were just reminders. The sunlight that gilded even a flock of ugly buzzards with a glowing patina of burnished gold was just a reminder.
It's all about life -- and life goes on.
There are more gray days ahead, especially north and west of us. There are days coated in drying mud, days filled with grief as people search for lost family members, photo albums, pets, and homes. There will be ugliness and stupidity as looters move in or unscrupulous people try to take advantage of the victims, but these gray days, too, will pass.
It's up to us bring the sunlight into the darkness when and where we can. Donate blood, truck in bottles of water, house a family ...
If Noah could help a nation of animals, the least we can do is help our neighbors. Do that -- and see how much brighter the rainbow can be.