The Traveler and the Rainbow
A modern parable by
Briseadh na Faire
A Traveler sat on an old stone, by a well-worn path one summer day. A storm had passed to the east, and the sun was low in the western sky. A brilliant rainbow shown against the dark clouds.
The traveler marveled at the bands of coloured light, each blending in infinite shades to the next. He reached into his pack and took out some drawing papers and chalk and began to sketch the rainbow.
A girl chanced by. She looked at the rainbow, and at the Traveler’s sketch. Then she pointed to his sketch.
“There’s too much blue in your rainbow.” she said.
“You think so?” the Traveler looked up at her.
“Definitely.” she replied. “Way too much blue.” Blue was her least favorite color. The world would be a lot better off with less blue in it, she thought.
The Traveler looked at the rainbow, and at his drawing. To Him, they seemed to be identical. He saw the disapproving look in the girl’s face and sighed.
“Ok.” he replied, and rubbed out much of the blue from his drawing.
“That’s better.” The girl chirped, and skipped on her way down the path, hardly noticing that the rainbow in the sky had a bit less blue in it now.
After a short while a man walked up. He too looked at the rainbow and the drawing. After looking back and forth several times, the man said, “Orange.”
“What?” The Traveler asked.
“Orange. Too much. Get rid of it. Just go from yellow to red. Skip the orange.” for the man hated orange.
“How’s this?” The Traveler held up his drawing. There was no orange in the rainbow. And his drawing matched the rainbow in the sky perfectly.
The man looked at the drawing, and at the rainbow, back and forth, slowly, several times. At last he said, “That’s better. That’s much better.” and went on his way.
And so it went, with different passers by, each complaining about this color or that color, until at last all that remained of the rainbow was gray rain in a gray world with a gray sunset.
The Traveler was about to pack his drawing away when a young mother and toddler approached. She was tired and cold and wet. The traveler offered her his cloak and some food. The toddler wandered about the small clearing exploring under each small rock and plucking a bouquet of gray wildflowers. The child walked up to her mother, offering the flowers to her with a smile. She smiled wearily back to the child.
The toddler climbed onto the Traveler’s lap and looked at his drawing, then at the sky. She looked with a puzzled face into the Traveler’s deep blue eyes.
“Rainbow?” the toddler asked, pointing to the sky.
The Traveler could only shake his head.
“Rainbow.” the child said, pointing to the drawing. “Rainbow. Rainbow. Rainbow.” the child tapped at the drawing.
The Traveler reached back into his bag and drew out the chalk once more. With masterful strokes he coloured the rainbow back into his drawing. And there, in the sky, the rainbow shown once more. The bouquet of flowers in the mother’s hand became a rainbow of color as well.
The Traveler continued on his drawing, coloring in the sky and the trees and the grass and the flowers. The child smiled and clapped. “Rainbow.” the child said affirmatively, nodding with approval at the drawing, and, at the sky.
“Yes” the Traveler replied, “rainbow.” There was a tear in his eye.
The mother rose, smiling. She looked at her child, and at the Traveler.
“Thank you.” she said, softly, as she kissed the Traveler on his forehead.
“No need to thank me.” replied the Traveler. “This is the world as you see it. The others who were before you are in the world as they see it. This path is different to each who walk upon it.” The mother gathered up her child and continued on her way.
“Thank you.” the Traveler thought. “You are teaching your child to see the path with all its colors, and your child will teach her children, and so on.” He knew, too, that each generation would explore and learn. He looked into his bag, then at the figures of the mother and child in his drawing. “For you and your offspring,” he wiped a tear, “I’m going to have to get some more chalk.”
© 2013 Briseadh na Faire