He knew what it meant.
His grandfather had mentioned it to him during their walks. His grandfather had squeezed his hand tightly one night as they were looking at the moon and said, ‘keep watching the skies’.
And he had.
“Promise me.” And he had kept his promise.
Ever since he could remember, ever since his grandfather had told him the story, he had done nothing but watch the skies.
“When the sign comes, get ready.”
“For what, grandpa, for what?”
But he never ever told him. His grandfather said he’d need to learn for himself what it meant. That way he could be sure of understanding.
“But what am I looking for grandpa?”
“Fire, boy. Fire in the sky.”
The boy had never understood exactly what kind of fire you could see in the sky.
“You’ll know it when you see it. I won’t be here, mind. It ain’t gonna be in my time, but you, you’ll see and you’ll know. You’ll say, ‘well gone darn it, my granddaddy was right. You see things will need to get bad, much worse than they are now before you see the fire.”
He didn’t know how much worse his grandfather meant, but it didn’t sound that great.
He thought that you never realise how much worse things are getting until you look back and see what they were once like. Sure enough the boy’s grandpa was right, he had seen it coming – the wars, the financial crashes and the people caring more about money than each other. The people were too busy looking down at their computers and their I-this and their I-that to look at the skies. The strange thing is, they would sometimes look at the skies on their computers. Yeah, go figure.
The last thing his grandpa said to him was ‘look at the old books’. The boy wasn’t really sure how old he meant. Two hundred? Two thousand? So he looked at them all and sure enough there was a similar story through them all – when the sky lit up, it was time for a change, for something to come, something better, and something kinder.
His grandpa wasn’t a believer in things churchy, you could say, but he believed in goodness and he believed in the universe and that got him through the night.
“The universe brought you here from stars and stuff and the universe is there when you look up.”
That kind of thinking helped him sleep at night and that was alright by the boy.
He was right ‘though.
Things did get worse. Folks forgot about kindness and helping one another. Things were put on streets to stop the homeless folks getting a dry night’s sleep. Churches hoarded millions of dollars. Governments helping the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.
A rich man still dies.
And the boy guessed that was what his grandpa was really talking about – that when the well of kindness runs dry, the universe will be there to make a re-adjustment and get us all back on track.
So when the boy read in the newspapers of the fire-rainbow which was seen over South Carolina a few days ago, he knew the re-adjustment was coming and caring and love would be back on the agenda.
You see if it doesn’t.
bobby stevenson 2016
(excerpt from USA Today, August 19th 2015 –
A rare “fire rainbow” appeared in the sky over South Carolina on Sunday evening.
Folks on social media eagerly shared images of the fire rainbow, which appeared in wispy clouds over Isle of Palms, S.C. Some people on Twitter said the rainbow looked like angel’s wings, while others likened it to a whale tail.)