Driving this weekend was uniformly awful. I got lost twice in two days; I burned an enormous amount of gas; there was no un-Christian radio for an enormous swathe of the travel time, so no consolation from the disappointment of the worship that day. Worst of all was the visibility - there was none. The rain came pissing down, so hard that I had to turn the wipers on full-speed to see the tail lights of the 18-wheelers not a dozen yards in front of me, so hard that I had to dime the volume to tell the radio static apart from the downpour outside.
All of that was worth the beauty of the last 90 minutes or so of the ride home.
Just past one of the bridges across the Hudson, somewhere in New York, the torrential rain let up ever so slightly for the sunset. I was able to turn the wipers down to a slower setting, and the highway started climbing up a hillside, turning my eyes for the first time to the sky.
I was unprepared for what I saw.
In front of me, past the horizon of the hillside, was nothing but clouds. But what clouds! They were supposed to be grey and stormy, but in the sunset the lowest layer of them was an intense, chalky pink. Above that was a deep soft blue, which faded into muted powder purples before my windshield cut off the rest.
Behind me the sky was ablaze. The sun was setting, and there were no clouds at all - just orange, and the molten gold solar disc that burned my eyes in the rear-view mirror. There were raindrops on the windshield, and rivulets of water spilling off the roof, and no way to wipe them off. The fire of the sunset made them dazzle like topaz.
And for some time, directly overhead, was a rainbow. For a few brief moments, I was able to look out the passenger-side window and see the right side of the arc; then the mountain cut me off, and all I could see was the left side of the arc, reaching down behind the hills and up through the blind spot of my roof - and I had no doubt, no doubt at all, that those two halves of the arc connected overhead. And as the rainbow faded from view, I realized it was because I was driving under it.
Then the rain picked up again, and the sun finally set, and in the noise and the darkness I was able to pick up a station of long proggy echo music on 91.3 FM. It lasted me all the way home.
I will never forget the beauty of that evening.