I went back and looked at my manuscript database. “The Rain and the Rainbows” (the manuscript in question) had been sent out twenty-seven times. Nine periodicals had accepted and printed the piece. Eighteen periodicals had either returned it or did respond at all. I don’t know if that’s par for the course, or a birdie or a bogey (go here for golfing term definitions), but it doesn’t seem too bad to me. But my favorite entries are the “Requested” ones.
Apparently, editors of take-home church papers or leisure reading church publications actually read similar publications from other denominations. I mentioned last week that readers from one denomination aren’t likely to read the material from another denomination. On three occasions, I had requests from editors saying that they had read the piece in another church publication and would like to use it in their own. Could they purchase reprint rights, please? “Of course you can!” And, when one particular editor requested use of the piece, I said yes and didn’t even remind him that I had actually sent it to him, a year or so earlier, and he had sent it back with a “no thanks” note. No reason to be antagonistic.
And, editors being who they are, and with their own word and space limits, and their own denominational Bible version preferences, the piece is sometimes, or, always, a little bit different at each printing. But, here it is, in case you’d like to know what I got paid a whole dollar for, a few weeks ago.
The Rain and the Rainbows
For the second time in twelve hours, I carried my bags to the airline check-in desk. An unexpected closing of Dallas/Fort Worth airport the previous evening had meant an extra night in Nashville and re-booking on the far-too-early first morning flight. Rain was still falling in Texas, but the airport had re-opened, and we took off.
The sun was rising in a clear Tennessee sky, but soon, I barely could see the ground through the clouds, which became thicker and thicker as we approached DFW. We descended through the gray fog, and rain pelted the windows as we landed. I dreaded the rest of my flight home. A little 15-passenger commuter plane carried travelers from DFW to the small airport in my central Texas town. Sometimes bouncy on nice days, in rainy, windy weather, it was more like a bad amusement park ride. The vibrations and noise of the propellers prevented even a short nap on the 45-minute flight.
The storm clouds were unusually low, heavy with rain. So, instead of flying below the cloud cover, as usual, we rose up into the blue sky above.
I leaned back against the seat, too tired even to try reading.
Then, briefly, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a little rainbow. I looked more intently. Nothing there. I imagined it. But, there it was again. Then gone again. Now there were three. Then only one.
I watched the most amazing little sky show. There were scores of tiny arcs of rainbows, appearing, disappearing, re-appearing. Did the angle of the morning sun cause this? Or was it our closeness to the tops of the waterlogged storm clouds? Does this always happen when it rains?
How did I never know this? When it rains underneath the dark clouds, up above, the sky is full of rainbows.
I watched until the plane headed down through the misty clouds. We left the sunny sky, and raindrops again covered the small windows. At the terminal, we passengers jogged through puddles from the plane to the building. Damp from the rain, we waited for our luggage. The baggage handlers, the airline personnel, and the car rental agents were as gloomy as the weather outside.
They just don’t realize, I thought. It may be dismal here, and all we can see is the dreary weather. But up above the clouds, the sun is shining, and the sky is full of rainbows.
In Matthew, Jesus says “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” For me, it’s more like a rainstorm. I may be drenched and feeling weary and waterlogged, but the rainbows are up there shining. I know, because I’ve seen them.
God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him.
1 Peter 5:7 (Contemporary English Version)
Things are different now, in most areas of publishing. So many print periodicals have folded and those that are still publishing are more selective. And, in the religious market, most have theme lists, which they gladly share with any writer who is interested. But there are hardly any who will just willy-nilly purchase something they might like, thinking that there will eventually be a place they can use it. So now, I think I’ll go see what the Mennonites are wanting in the next few months. They usually purchase what I send them.