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The Prayer of the Double Rainbow

Yosemitebear Mountain Double Rainbow 1-8-10 . Works better if you turn on the closed captions.

It was rainbowing for at least an hour on January 8th 2010. It was incredible.
The camera could not capture the vivid intensity and brightness.
Look into the mirror, look into your soul!
– “Yosemitebear62”

Yosemitebear62 was also known as Paul “Bear” Vasquez. And, yes, you may well have seen this  viral video before. Nearly 50 million people have, but it bears revisiting from time to time in order to relearn one thing: JOY. 

The amateur video shows the view from Vazquez’s property into the skies above the Yosemite Valley on January 8, 2010. After moving away from several trees that interfere with the scene, Vazquez enjoys an unobstructed view of a semicircular double rainbow. Vasquez’s reaction captures his intense emotional excitement; he weeps with joy and moans ecstatically, uttering phrases such as “Double rainbow all the way across the sky,” “What does this mean?” and “Too much!”

Paul later confirmed he was completely sober but overcome with joy; once common to our childhood but growing rarer as life rolls by.

Unalloyed and unabashed joy in life is something we all are born with. Something innate in our response to being alive. Young children at play by themselves or others are subject to many many fits of joy. They can let the joy in life and creation explode out of them without a shred of self-consciousness They can also beam and move and speak and sing with quiet joy by themselves or with others. All children in childhood experience spontaneous joy.

Then, at some point, it stops.

At puberty? At the end of innocence? I don’t know. I only know that this Edenic feeling is at some point withdrawn from the sheaf of emotions we can call up at will, only to be given back from time to time and seldom at the time one would wish it.

I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.

― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Maybe that is the real nature of the gift of joy; that it is a gift either contained within or wrapped around grace. And for such a gift we can only watch and wait.

Paul “Bear” Vasquez was the kind of soul that was open to joy and knew it when he was given it. I’m glad he’s over the top in spontaneous prayer. I am overjoyed that he can just let his feeling of joy out without a filter. I know there are a host of people who mock and sneer at Bear’s blue-collar tone and vocabulary.  But Bear doesn’t need bigger words for his prayer. He just needs the power of his joy; a joy that is unrelenting.

“In a May 3, 2020, Facebook post, Vasquez spoke of feeling feverish and having trouble breathing. However, he refrained from going to a hospital, as he looked forward to reincarnating and “enjoying the ride”. On May 9, Vasquez died in the emergency room of John C. Fremont Hospital in Mariposa, California. “

Good for you Bear. You got a double rainbow out of the deal. That and getting 50 million people to share the sheer joy of it. Vaya con Dios, Vasquez. See you a little further down the road.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jwm June 8, 2022, 5:58 PM

    “…with no word on my tongue but hallelujah.”
    L Cohen.


  • John Venlet June 9, 2022, 4:43 AM

    The joy and awe Vasquez expresses in seeing this double rainbow obliterates the scientific explanations for a rainbow’s appearance in the skies. His emotional reactions mirror many individuals’ souls when a rainbow is seen in the skies; our movements in order to take in a rainbow’s full view, the wonder of the rainbow’s colors and its sheer size, its intensity; all these humble us and for reasons we may not completely understand fill us with wonder and thanks. During my time living in Hawaii, I saw double rainbows many times, and though I was always inspired at the wonder and beauty of these double rainbows, Vasquez’s expressions of pure joy at his encounter with a double rainbow was more uplifting than my memories of my encounters.

    Yosemite seems to be a good place to encounter the joy and wonder of God’s creation, whether that be in physicality of the earth itself, or the wonders of the heavens. Here’s another Yosemite rainbow (1:35 video – go full screen) whose beauty can inspire, which was recently linked at The Dailytimewaster.

  • waitingForTheStorm June 9, 2022, 5:09 AM

    I moved to a rural property a decade ago. I worked in a large metropolitan area that was, regularly, a drive of 75 to 90 minutes when traffic was “light”.

    One morning, I left home a bit before dawn. There had been storms all night and the eastern sky was clear, while the western sky was still clouded and shrouded in the mist of light rain. I was just beginning the daily intellectual transition of readying myself for the daily work world.

    As I crested the hill coming out of our little valley, I noticed a single shaft of red light rising from the ground off to the right side of my vision. I stopped for a bit, puzzled by it. What could it be? There was nothing in that part of the county that would explain that vision.

    As I drove into the nearest town, the red band changed. It morphed into a fully formed rainbow over the 10 to 12 minute drive. By the time I entered the town, the sun had crested the horizon and I was looking at a glorious rainbow, more luminous because of the dark clouds behind it.

    I was almost 65 years old at the time. I have never seen anything like that, before or since. I have asked a few folks and nobody has recounted a similar experience. What luck that I was able to see this. What a glorious demonstration of our God and the beauty of his creation. Perhaps my explanation is wrong, but it is consistent with an explanation I once saw about cocks crowing: their vision is purportedly more sensitive to red hues and that they sense the sunrise long before we do.

  • Amy June 9, 2022, 5:55 AM

    June 14, 2008 in southwest Michigan at about 6:30 pm as my daughters graduation party was kicking off and guest were beginning to arrive there was a cloud burst in an otherwise clear sky and then a visual BOOM! and vivid double rainbow appear! We all stood around in amazement and laughing with joy and getting wet as the sun shone on us. No one ran for cover because…double rainbows! It only lasted for a minute and then faded to blue.

    The theme song for the night was Emmelou’s “Love and Happiness”. Today, my daughter is a married homeschooling mother of six. I would say the promise God made us that day has been made manifest.

    • ghostsniper June 9, 2022, 8:16 AM

      Amy sed: “Today, my daughter is a married homeschooling mother of six.”

      • Mike Austin June 9, 2022, 4:01 PM

        Amy and her daughter, their offspring and peers, will inherit the world. The aborters, the sodomites, the drag queens, the non-binaries, the transgendered: they will all die off.

  • Boonie Rain Hat June 9, 2022, 8:51 AM

    Maintaining that sense of wonder is the fountain of youth.
    A beautiful sunbreak yesterday as the rabbits were fast as lightning and the geese were honking away.
    They do that to keep morale up and encourage the others.
    A tip of the hat and a good day.

    • LP June 9, 2022, 2:15 PM

      I was sent a video taken by my son and his friend a couple of days ago as they drove to Yellowstone National Park. I wanted to post it here but I don’t know how to post from my photo album to here. The video had a rainbow, and they were yelling (OMG! It’s right there!) over and over, because there was the “end of the rainbow” meeting a canyon wall as they drove by. It was a lot like YosemiteBear’s video.

  • Harry June 9, 2022, 8:56 AM

    One morning leaving for work; hop in the car, pull out of the drive, turn down the street. Hey, there’s a rainbow! Turn around, pull back into the drive, run into the house to get the wife and kids (young at the time) to come out and see the rainbow.

  • jiminalaska June 9, 2022, 9:16 AM

    Rainbows; joyful, awesome, mystical, yes, but the Aurora Borealis; we’re especially blessed up here atop the world!


  • Mike Austin June 9, 2022, 10:12 AM

    The man who does not daily take joy in the glory of God’s carpentry is either looking in the wrong place or is not looking at all.

  • LP June 9, 2022, 2:34 PM

    My Dad used to quote one of the points from C. S. Lewis’s “Proof that there is a God” and that point was that we humans are created with the capacity to appreciate beauty and nature. So when we see a gorgeous sunset or a double rainbow or when we taste a fresh strawberry or swim in the warm salty ocean on a summer day in the sunshine and revel in the ecstasy, it’s because we are meant to have that appreciation. God has given us the capacity to feel that. To put it more simply, we know there is a God because we have the capacity to appreciate the sunset, (and rainbows).

  • Mitchell Strand June 9, 2022, 5:01 PM

    I broke my humerus just below my shoulder joint on March 2. Yesterday, during physical therapy, I asked the PT I was working with if he ever marveled at the seeming magic of the ball joint when he turned a key and unlocked a door.

    No, he said, but before I got disappointed, he noted that the human body was just an intricate set of levers and pulleys. He went on to muse about the electricity that makes it all happen. I said we were getting close to talking about human consciousness, and while it’s interesting to talk about how our bodies work, we may not need to understand where our consciousness comes from and exactly what it is. It’s enough to know we are conscious and able to perceive the world.

    This guy got that in spades.

  • Hyland June 9, 2022, 9:08 PM

    Next time you’re viewing a big rainbow in the sky, grab the water hose and spray it into the air. It intensifies the colors. Then, spray the water downwards. If the sunlight is fully at your back the rainbow “in the sky” will become a complete circle bottoming near your feet and back up again. There’s only one rainbow. It’s the one you’re seeing and it’s yours personally.