Short Story: Moonbow

The following short story originally appeared in my, Eternal Weight of Glory and Other Short Stories collection. It isn’t autobiographical; I’ve never stolen a neighbor’s property or their husband. Instead, it’s based on a verse in the fifth chapter of the book of Mark. There we read of the healing of the demon-possessed man called Legion. After Jesus cast the spirits from him, the reborn man expresses his desire to go with Jesus. Jesus denied his request saying to him–and to us– “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Going home to our families and sharing our testimony is a daunting prospect for many Christians. These people knew us at our worst. My husband and I know from our experience trying to reach them under those circumstances is difficult. My brother blew me off. My father-in-law reacted angrily to my husband. And yet, we’re to witness to them.

I address this dilemma in the story below. As with the majority of my stories, I use the landscape to help emphasis my point. On this occasion, I used the moonbow at Cumberland Falls State Park in Kentucky. You’ll see why.


Science tells us rainbows form when light refracts through a prism such as rain, but I never knew if the phenomenon occurred when a beam of light shone through a single bead of water, or if it took thousands of drops to form the bow. If the former, the sky should be filled with brightly colored arcs after a storm, delighting children lucky enough to see such a sight. If the latter, then science failed to explain to me how light bending through a myriad of drops can form a single, massive, unbroken bow separated into a palette of colors.

Foamy white water glowing in moonlight nearly obscured by a cloud gushed over a cliff into a pool sixty-eight feet below, its perpetual roar serving as a locator beacon. A fine mist blowing up from Cumberland Falls dampened my skin. Tightening my fleece around me to fight off the chill, I crept across the overlook located just off the bank of the river. Though the sandstone typical of the Cumberland Plateau had eroded in places, leaving an uneven surface littered with potholes, I didn’t need a flashlight to make my way around the state park. My kin had been roaming this area of Kentucky for over two-hundred years.

That was the problem.

Family, friends, and neighbors—people who knew me and knew every sin I’d committed while growing up, and some who participated in those sins with me—still lived in Corbin. When I left for college four years before, I was still the girl they knew me to be. As rebellious as I was back then, I didn’t care what they said or thought.

That was before the weight of those sins brought me to my knees before Christ during my senior year. Though God had given me a new heart to go along with my new life, I couldn’t forget my past. And I doubted those in my old stomping grounds could either.

My pastor and his wife said that was the very reason I should head home after graduation. They pointed to a verse in Mark where Jesus had instructed a man He’d healed to go home and tell his family what the Lord had done for him. I’d promised to consider it, but the verse about a prophet having no honor in his hometown kept running through my head. In a town where I’d stolen everything from patio furniture to a woman’s husband, dishonor was all I could expect.

But God had made His wishes clear the following week. On the day my landlord informed me he was selling the building and couldn’t renew my lease, a teaching position opened up at my old elementary school.

Footsteps and flashlight beams brought me back to the edge of the river. Tourists and campers would soon crowd beside me on a rock some claimed was as old as the Ancient of Days. I would rather have the moment to myself, but I understood the lure of a miracle no one could fully explain.

A chorus of shushes nearly drowned out the rumble of the falls. As those around me extinguished flashlights, a cloud as stubborn as I once had been shifted, revealing a full moon, dazzling this deep in the dark country. Moments later, an arc of color shimmered, and the famous moonbow formed across Cumberland Falls.

Children and adults, their voices quivering with excitement, tried to take pictures with their cell phones. I reached out along with several others, unable to touch that which I could plainly see.

I once heard darkness is the absence of light, but the Apostle John reminds us the light of Jesus shines in the darkness, and the darkness can’t overcome it. Maybe God wanted me to go to Corbin for that very reason. Whether He intended to shine His light through me alone or to use me as one of a thousand droplets, I didn’t know. But if He could use the mist from a waterfall located in the middle of nowhere to project a miracle, then maybe, just maybe, He could use me.

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