Recently, a friend and I were walking along our city’s snow-encrusted sidewalks, swapping stories of tumult and triumph in our lives — and Satan’s failed attempts to snare.
By text later, I recalled with her words from Glinda the Good Witch of the North to the Wicked Witch of the West, just after she’d tried stealing Dorothy’s ruby slippers: “You have no power here! Begone, before somebody drops a house on you, too!”
The discussion transported me back to around 1979, my seventh-grade year, when the Missoula Children’s Theater came to our small Montana school to lead a production of “The Wizard of Oz” with us children as fellow cast members.
I gathered with other interested elementary and middle-school students in our cafeteria to try out, hoping I’d be chosen to play the Wicked Witch. She’d frightened me as a young child, but by then, I was sure she’d be the best character to enact.
Listening for the main characters to be announced, I finally heard my name, followed by: “Dorothy.” Disappointment was quickly replaced by realizing my leading role, and the whole experience proved to be fantastically memorable.
Now, I can’t help but see how closely my life has matched Dorothy’s. Like so many, I yearned for a more colorful world far from home; a place where I didn’t have to answer to “Auntie Em,” and “Uncle Henry,” where my spirit could fly free with the little birds “somewhere over the rainbow.”
Once there, I’d confront the wild beasts of the forest, but also discover trusty companions who saw my heart’s goodness, and hear the loving voice of the beautiful Glinda, gently redirecting me at each moment of trouble, and reminding me of the gift of my ruby slippers, and how they’d help me find my way home.
I can easily see Glinda as God, always near and loving me even through my missteps, and the Wicked Witch as the evil one, working overtime to pull me off course, sneering happily over my imperfections. During our walk, my friend had shared Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s long-ago advice on discerning good and evil. He’d explained that Satan encourages us in our sin, then abandons us when we find ourselves wounded by it, whereas God does everything possible to prevent us from sin, then delights, encourages and heals us when we turn from it.
As Easter looms, I see again how, for a moment or two, it seemed Satan, and death, had won.
But even as the flying monkeys flap and screech in the distance, I look down at my ruby slippers, still affixed, then gaze up at the cross of Christ.
It’s then that I realize what’s happened and cry out with others: “The tomb is empty; he is risen!” “Begone, Satan, you have no power here!”
Home is heaven. And truly, there’s no place like home.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on March 31, 2018.]