Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
"Rainbow Bridge" is a beautiful piece of prose that suggests our departed pets wait for us to join them in the afterlife.
Rainbow Bridge is also a huge, natural rock formation located at Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border.
Is there a connection between the two? Wally Brown, a member of the Navajo Tribe's Bitter Water Clan, says a connection is quite likely. Brown is a Navajo historian; he has researched the Rainbow Bridge and the special significance it holds in the spiritual beliefs of the Navajo.
Brown believes the Rainbow Bridge was discovered during the Freemont Culture which dates to 1200 A.D. Sand paintings of the Anasazi and the Towering Hang People clearly portray the rock formation as well. For centuries, the Rainbow Bridge has been the sacred site of Native American healing ceremonies - ceremonies which heal a person's spiritual nature.
According to Brown, the Rainbow Bridge represents a connection between this life and the next - a path provided to make the passing easier. He says the term "rainbow" comes, not only from the formation's shape itself, but also from the stories of people who saw a bright, white light as they were dying. White light is a combination of all the colors found in a rainbow.
Brown says Navajos believe that all animals can talk and that humans could, at one time, "clearly understand and communicate with their four-legged brothers." He says this communication is a major part of the Navajo stories passed from generation to generation (considered documentation of the tribe's history). As time progressed, however, and the Navajo culture became diluted by outside influences, the ability to talk with the animals was impaired. As he put it, "When a people lose a sense of the culture, the beliefs are thrown by the wayside - and the human abilities found in those beliefs are lost as well."
The question is asked again: Is there a true connection between "Rainbow Bridge" (the prose) and Rainbow Bridge (the rock formation considered a sacred site by the Navajos)? Since the author of the piece is unknown, the origin of the concept may never be discovered. Such a connection also depends on one's spiritual beliefs and is very personal in nature.
Wally Brown, for one, says the association fits because the Navajos believe in the equality of all souls - human and animal. He says the thought of being reunited with his beloved animals is quite comforting, and "what better place than the Rainbow Bridge?"
Copyright © 1997-2012 Maryann Watkins