As I returned to Liverpool on the train this afternoon after delivering anti-bullying workshops on behalf of the Michael Causer Foundation in the area where Michael was from, I looked through the rain-speckled window to see what must have been the widest rainbow I have ever seen.
Sadly, as I had been out since early morning, my mobile phone battery had died so I could not use my camera. Instead, here is a rainbow I captured in Liverpool city centre a few weeks ago.
As I left work on my lunch break and walked towards Lime Street station as usual, I did not have my eyes down or on the screen of my phone for a change. As I looked up, I saw this glorious sight above St George’s Hall, a Grade 1 listed building, widely regarded as one of the finest neo-classical buildings in the world.
The reason I captured it was most likely because of one of the exercises from Julia Cameron‘s guide to creative recovery, The Artist’s Way. In week four of the twelve week programme she suggested ‘Reading Deprivation’, later updated to ‘Media Deprivation’ to include the many devices and distractions now available to us on a constant basis.
So instead of checking emails or making a call as I walked along, I looked up and paid attention to the world around me, to be rewarded by this awesome sight.
The rainbow was seen as a symbol of God’s promise to renew creation in the Old Testament (Gen 9:13), adapted as the Freedom Flag by the LGBT rights movement in the 1970s as a symbol of human diversity.
Sometimes its appearance can appear auspicious. Michael Causer, from Whiston, Merseyside, died on 2nd August 2008 aged just 18 after being brutally assaulted and left for dead. The parents of the murdered gay teenager have set up the Michael Causer Foundation to provide safe accommodation and support for LGBT young people who are homeless or at risk in the north-west of England. On the fourth anniversary of Michael death this year, his Foundation held an anti hate crime vigil of remembrance in a city centre square, with the theme ‘We Are All Family’. The aim was to highlight the impact of hate crime on the family and community as well as the victim. Around 100 people gathered, including representative of hate crime due to homophobia, race, disability, and being from a different youth culture. Flowers were laid, songs sung, candles lit. As the crowd dispersed, a rainbow appeared over the square like a ray of hope. It was an awe-inspiring moment.
Seeing the rainbow from the train today had a similar uplifting effect on me. Preparing to deliver the anti-bullying training I felt anxious, braced for the worst, hoping for the best. I saw some of the best empathy and openness in the young people I met, especially at the college where Michael was a student. He did not get to complete his course or fulfil his potential as an adult.
The Michael Causer Foundation aims to be his legacy; to educate, accommodate and motivate young people and give them hope for a future free of bullying and prejudice.