On the back cover of my book, Once Upon A Time, I said “Stories have always been about us, a mirror in which we can see ourselves — our hopes and dreams, but also our greatest dilemmas.”
I believe stories can be just this meaningful, even more. I believe stories can communicate great truths and touch us deeply, much of the time without our awareness.
If this is true it would raise questions of agency and motive. Who or what could be behind this, and why?
In previous newsletters we have discussed our love of stories, the possibility we are looking for something we very much need, and this may be our need to return home, like the two brothers from Luke 15. Maybe, spiritually, we were never meant to grow up, to be the god of our own world.
As we consider all these things, let us pause and consider another piece of evidence: The Wizard of Oz.
Some believe this is the greatest children’s movie of all time. Did we love it because of Judy Garland’s performance, or the song Over the Rainbow, or the imaginative plot, or the performance of the actors? Or is it possible this movie made the impression it did because the story touched something deeper within us?
What was it about? Do you remember?
Dorothy and her three companions, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion — are each hoping the Wizard will give them the one thing they need. For the Scarecrow, it is intelligence; for the Tin Man, a heart; and for the Lion, courage.
Dorothy just wants to go home to Kansas. She ran away because her uncle and aunt would not stand up to a nasty woman who wanted to put down her dog, and no one had the time to listen when she needed to talk.
As the story develops, however, it is apparent all three of Dorothy’s companions already have what they most wanted. The Scarecrow, time and again, uses his wits to save them from the evil witch. The sheer depth of the Tin Man’s desire for a heart, reveals he already has one. And the Lion finds his courage when he finds a cause, helping Dorothy get back to Kansas.
We all struggle with self-doubt, do we not? We all can fear we will not have what it takes when the time comes. We may not be smart enough, or brave enough, or even compassionate enough, to respond to what life throws our way.
But . . . might there be a greater message in this story, not something so specific and obvious? Something more general and difficult to see?
What do you think? Any ideas?
To me, the greater truth is an ironic one — all four of our friends were greatly mistaken in some fundamental way about what they most needed, but also how and where to find it. We are left to wonder, why could they not see their own hearts and minds more clearly?
Surprisingly, Dorothy learns, just like her friends, she always had the power to go home, but she had to learn this for herself.
At the end of the movie, all she has to do is to repeat the words, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home . . .” clicking her heels together, and she wakes up back in Kansas.
All she needed to do to return home was to acknowledge that home was her heart’s desire, the one thing she desired above all else.
There’s no place like home, no place like home.
Home. What is it about that word. Why does it have so much . . . power?
Welcome, I'm Sam!
A fellow traveler on this journey we call life and this path we call the Christian faith, wanting to speak to anyone who will listen about the incredible things that God (only because of His incredible grace) chose to reveal to me. Stories have always been a mirror in which we can see ourselves, if we only look more closely. We are all like the children of Israel in the wilderness, wanting and needing to establish ourselves in the promised land. Stories can help us to get there, and to flourish there.
I can't wait to get to know you!