August 1, 2021
When I watched the Wizard of Oz as an adult, I was realized I had missed a very important lesson embedded in the Wizard’s encounters with Dorothy and her friends.
The Wizard’s chamber, with its flashes of light, mighty rumblings, and the huge ferocious visage projected on a screen terrified the group and made them feel incredibly powerless and insignificant; after all, with no brains, no courage, no heart, no home, what were they thinking showing up in that august space?
When the five returned with the witch’s broom in tow as demanded, and realized the wizard had no intention of helping them, they weakly protested the bait and switch.
Only Toto, that fearless canine, wasn’t intimated. He ran to the curtained off area and revealed the ‘man behind the curtain.’
With that revelation, the pathway home began.
The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz was revealed to be nothing more than a conman and circus performer from Omaha, Nebraska who had long ago been blown off course in his hot air balloon, ultimately landing in Oz.
Still, once a conman always a conman, right?
The ‘wizard’ overwhelmed the citizens of Emerald City with his smoke and mirrors and they bought it; declaring him to be a great sorcerer worthy of leading them, even though he did nothing to improve their lives. Their greatest threat remained the dreaded witches of East and West and it was easier to hide behind the walls of the City in the shadow of the man who hid behind a curtain, than take action.
The con became reality … until Toto showed up!
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There’s a lot to learn here!
In the narrative, the conman, once revealed, tried to distance himself from reality by calling himself ‘that man’ when Toto pulled back the curtain. But, thankfully, he almost immediately accepted the truth of who he was: a mere mortal powerless to change his own condition, much less anyone else’s; a frightened man who was out of his depth (no brain), fearful of being found out (no courage), aggressive and exploitative in his persona (no heart), and hopelessly lost (homeless).
The group’s reaction – indeed Emerald City’s reaction – to the revelation, was one of compassion, as they made space for the man’s redemption. What grace!
The man was worthy simply because he was human not because he was ‘the great and powerful wizard.’
Still, the revelation was a blow to Dorothy and her friends.
They had come seeking miracle solutions to their circumstances.
But now…..how could a man who couldn’t help himself, help them?
It was as a human among fellow humans, that the ‘wizard’ would do his best work – and it was no con!
The ‘wizard’ began lifting up and affirming the previously unrecognized gifts and graces in each of those who had come to him for help.
- The Scarecrow had always had a brain- strategic thinking defined his intellect
- The Tin Man had always had a heart – unhesitatingly compassionate at every turn
- The Lion had always been courageous – defending his friends without thought of personal safety
- Dorothy had always been able to go home – it’s where her heart resided, where her soul was nurtured and refined
Just as Toto pulled the curtain back on the ‘wizard’s’ reality, so now the man had the opportunity to reveal the reality existing in others.
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Pain and fear comes from hiding from each other – as we try to prove we are the best, the brightest, the bravest, the most powerful.
Pain comes from seeing ourselves as perpetual victims, lacking in worth, misunderstood and abused, devoid of hope for anything better.
To be sure, some days we do feel as though we are the best, the brightest, the bravest, the most powerful, the most misunderstood, the most abused, most undervalued, the most victimized.
Life’s like that.
However, to think that these feelings are the sum total of who we are is the greatest con of all! A powerful con with smoke and mirrors, loud rhetoric and self-proclaimed greatness and power which violates who we are and what we are intended to be.
So who and what are we?
We are God’s children – full stop.
Christ came to teach us this truth in no uncertain terms.
We are beloved and intentionally created by God to love and be loved by God, and to share that love with all others.
There is nothing we can do that is beyond God’s power to forgive.
There is nothing we can do to lose God’s love.
We have nothing to prove to God to earn the unconditional love of the Divine.
God, in unconditional love for us, has graciously and mercifully gifted each of us in specific ways.
Think of the gifts revealed in the narrative. We all possess such empowering gifts. Sure we have other gifts as well, but consider these four in particular:
- Courage – speaking for the voiceless even if it means we speak alone
- Heart – loving those who feel they are unlovable and helping them to love themselves as God loves them; only then can they authentically share the love they have come to know
- Brain – thinking things through proactively rather than reactively, to the benefit of all not just a few
- Home – wherever we are loved, accepted, nurtured, and held accountable for being our best
True power is living as who we are, the gifted children of God, and affirming that same truth in the lives of others.
With these gifts revealed:
- we no longer deny, but rather embrace, who we are and celebrate who we are becoming in Christ
- we no longer hide ourselves from others behind aggressive, dramatic, and overpowering personalities trying to make ourselves ‘great and powerful, but are comfortable that who we are is enough; our comfortableness allows us to help others see that they are enough as well.
- we no longer make excuses for inaction in response to circumstance
- identify and live into our God-given gifts
- identify and lift up the gifts we see in others
- seek the common good of all (after all, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion remained in Oz to live into their gifts for the good of the Ozmonians) –
Now we have the freedom to:
- live into who we truly are, knowing we are forgiven when we have fallen short
- forgive others for when they too have lived less than their best lives
- no longer feel threatened by the gifts of others because we know that we have our own wonderful God-given gifts continuously being discovered and used for God’s glory.
It all begins with pulling back the curtain of the con. No need to click our heels – we realize we’re already home – home in the heart of God.
And to God be the glory! AMEN
BTW sometimes I forget….sigh…..to post in In the Stillness, but today I remembered! Hope the words in 1 Peter touch you as they never fail to touch me!