Many people feel a twinge of disappointment the first time they see The Wizard of Oz.
The heroes have journeyed through one obstacle after another in search of some of life’s best gifts: If I only had a brain. If I only had a heart. If I only had courage. If I only could go home.
But the Wizard has nothing to give Dorothy’s friends except a piece of paper, a ticking clock, and a cheap medal.
Is that it?
But gradually it dawns on us that the reason the Wizard has nothing to give the three companions is that they already have what they have been looking for. The Scarecrow is wise. The Tin Man feels love to the depth of his – well, where his heart would have been. And the Cowardly Lion is entirely ready and able to act bravely, which he has demonstrated on several occasions.
And what of Dorothy? The Good Witch informs her that the ruby slippers she is wearing have always been capable of taking her home whenever she wanted.
Uh, don’t you think that would have been somewhat helpful information to share at the beginning of the journey?
Actually, no. Dorothy has to learn, all by herself, what she’s really facing and what she can do about it. And that will only happen by taking that trip down the Yellow Brick Road. The same is true for her companions.
Another way of putting it is that they all need a wake-up call, and not just from a field of poppies.
“We have to accept that human culture is in a mass hypnotic trance,” writes Father Richard Rohr. “We’re sleepwalkers.”
That’s why Jesus says on multiple occasions, “Be watchful!” And the apostle Paul pleads, “Wake up, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” (Ephesians 5:14).
We may find ourselves slogging through another day with our own set of wishes. If I only knew God was really there. If I only knew everything was going to be OK. If I only knew that my life mattered.
All too often we’re oblivious to the fact that we already have the blessings we’ve been searching for.
Rohr continues: “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. Little do we realize that God is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another it means that God is choosing us now and now and now.”
It’s not that we need to learn something new and amazing to experience a spiritual homecoming with God.
It’s always been possible to go there. Right now. Just as we are.
Even a swarm of flying monkeys won’t be able to stand in our way.