Once, there was a child who lived with the angels and longed to go to earth…
So begins one of the most well-loved of Waldorf traditions, the Rainbow Bridge story.
My babies just turned two and are hardly in a position to appreciate a fairy tale written just for them. All they know of birthdays is that we sing songs and they get cake.
They especially like the cake.
But as I meditated on their birthday and how they came to be, the Rainbow Bridge story didn’t ring true, at least not as written.
You see, theirs was not a gentle passage. And there were lots of “angels” who helped get them here safely. And when their first days are filled with pictures like this
it seems dishonoring of what we went through together to pretend parts of it didn’t happen.
We want a story that is beautiful and gentle, but also a story that is true. I want to invoke a sense of the sacredness of birth, but I also want to capture a feeling of gratitude for those who loved my babies when I was not able to and a sense of wonder at the miracle that we’re all still walking the journey together.
These traditions we’ve been handed down—they’re so beautiful, so lovely, so perfectly sweet. But we’re meant to claim them as our own, I think. It’s OK to add your own twist to the feasts and festivals, to do what works best for you and your family.
And so, here is our new Rainbow Bridge story.
Once, there were two tiny children named Matthew and Molly who existed in a world of their own with just one another for company.
They grew side by side, always keeping their heads together, as they listened to the lovely music and gentle voices surrounding them and watched the soft muted colors swirl about them.
But as they grew they became more and more curious about the world outside their own. They wanted to see more than the the peaceful waters swirling about them. They wanted to dance to the music without bumping into one another and find the source of the loving voices.
“May we go now?” Matthew and Molly asked their angel.
“Not yet, children,” the angel said, “for you are not yet strong enough for the journey.”
And the children grew in strength and length and grew to love each other more and more. They also grew to love the voices beyond, the boys and the girl and man and woman who were waiting for them. One day when it seemed there was not even one more inch for them to grow, they asked the angel again.
“Please, may we go now?”
“Yes,” the angel replied. “Yes, I think it is time for you to go. Use the gifts that you have—your love and your music and your laughter—and travel over the Rainbow Bridge.”
And so they traveled together, hand in hand. Matthew went over the bridge first, and then held out his hand to help Molly over as well, and they slid into their father’s waiting arms. After they crossed, they were held and loved. All the boys and the girl came to see them. They were their brothers and sister who had been waiting for them for so long. The man held them too, and sang to them and whispered prayers over them. He was their father. The woman, their mother, could not come to them right away. But they were carried to her and placed on her chest, and she watched them from her place of dreams and loved them so hard that they felt it cover them like a blanket. And while they waited for her, they were watched over by many angels, seen and unseen. And just as the woman had spoken to their hearts before she ever saw their faces, so too did they speak to her spirit while she slept and healed.
Eventually they were all together, Matthew and Molly and Mama and Daddy and Michael and Katie Grace and Nicholas and Daniel. And together they grew and loved, hand in hand and side by side.