Rainbows in the Windows

A rainbow, drawn on a piece of paper, inside a house window.

Somewhere in the world, there was a child and their grandparent sheltering in place, just like you are now - and they were really fed up, perhaps a bit like you are sometimes. The novelty of being at home all the time and doing whatever they wanted had worn off for the child and they felt booooooored. For the grandparent, it was less a feeling of boredom weighing them down, but rather, a sense of hopelessness. They watched TV for hours, though how many hours remained a mystery—they had stopped keeping track of time, really. The days all blurred together, they felt they had been doing this for so long.

And then one day, when the child accidentally sat on the remote (after getting more snacks) and the TV accidentally turned off, there was something new reflected in the black screen of the powered down TV. The child and their grandparent turned around to look out their front window and find the source of this reflection—in the house across the road from them, there was a piece of paper taped in the window, and on that paper was a colorfully drawn rainbow.

Well, this was something new—something unexpected and bright and cheery and new! The child and grandparent turned to one another knowingly, grinning. In a flash, the child retrieved a sheet of paper and crayons and began to draw a rainbow while the grandparent fetched tape - a moment later, they gazed upon their window with pride. Their rainbow shone back across the street, joyfully mirroring their neighbor’s rainbow.

What happened next, was like magic. Every day, more cheerful rainbows appeared in more windows, all up and down the street. The child and their grandparent gleefully drew rainbows for each window in their home, watching their neighbors doing the same. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and all manner of other colors burst forth, seeming to shine through the windows. A cacophony of color!

But the people didn’t stop there—they continued to draw. Rainbows were taped to neighbor’s doors, slipped into mailboxes. They were sent to care homes, to beloved elders who couldn’t have visitors. Rainbows were left tucked under the windshield wipers of Uber Eats driver’s cars. They were left out for the delivery folks. People made rainbows to send to hospitals, scrawled with messages of gratitude and admiration for everyone working to help the sick, from the doctors and nurses to the custodial staff and maintenance workers. Stockers working hard in grocery stores found paper rainbows between cans of beans and corn, left waiting on the shelves where the toilet paper was sold out.

Now, families on solitary walks around the city go rainbow hunting. The child and their grandfather like to do this—taking paper with them to write down all the places they see rainbows hanging. The empty school, the corner store, windows of brownstone homes, even hanging from balconies fifteen stories up. They make a list of all the rainbows emerging, logging each place where the colors shine into the empty streets.

By now you’ve probably figured out that this story is really happening, all over the world, right now. Folks are coming together in spirit while physically distanced to lovingly reassure one another with brilliant colors. The rainbows are beautiful and to see them alone is a joy, but they carry with them a promise.

The rainbows shine as a reminder of hope: we are in this together, the storm will end, and we will come out on the other side.