Arches can give rise to many thoughts, from the mundane to the sublime. In a crossword puzzle, the answer to “segment of a circle” is “arc.” Interestingly, if a rainbow didn’t appear to end at the ground, the viewer would see a complete circle. So an arch or a rainbow arc implies a circle, without beginning or end, a symbol of infinity.
These arches are at the Monastery of St. John on the Greek island of Patmos, which I visited on a recent Bible study tour, and where it’s said John wrote the book of Revelation. Such a biblical site leads one to contemplate spiritual sermons suggested by architectural and natural marvels.
The religious and civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of “the arch of the moral universe” that “bends toward justice.” He referred to his faith that “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope” (Address to the Massachusetts State Legislature, 1965).
Mary Baker Eddy similarly associated the arch—in her case, the rainbow—with hope beyond despair, affirming that today’s experience, defeat, or battle “robes the future with hope’s rainbow hues.” And in a poem titled “Hope,” she described this hopeful feeling, in part, as “a rainbow of rapture, o’erarching, divine” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 339, 394).