I believe in the Sovereign Will of God. I have already stated that. I also believe that God works in mysterious and uncanny ways. To the casual observer most of life’s events have little or no meaning at all. Maybe they are right. Things don’t mean anything. But maybe, just maybe, they do.
I am a dreamer. Stories capture my imagination, as does music. Put the two together, and I am completely lost in a reverie. As a child my favorite movies were musicals. The Sound of Music. Annie. The Wizard of Oz. I couldn’t get enough of them. I knew every line of every song by heart. As an aspiring ballerina, I created magical dances to go along with each song. One of favorites was Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Naturally, I wanted to share all of these things with my daughter as she grew up.
In 1999, when Katie was only 6 years old, The Wizard of Oz released a special edition video set to celebrate its 60th anniversary. Katie, like me, was enamored with Dorothy and Toto and Judy Garland’s wistful voice singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Suddenly everything HAD to be The Wizard of Oz. Katie wanted to wear her hair like Dorothy’s. She carried our kitten around in a basket the same way Dorothy carried Toto.
More than anything, though, Katie wanted a pair of Ruby slippers. Just. Like. Dorothy’s. Of course, Katie got Ruby Slippers, and she wore them everywhere. She was even Dorothy for Halloween, and what an adorable Dorothy she was with her doe brown eyes and her dusty brown hair.
That was then. And as life would have it, it has been a long time since Katie and I have watched The Wizard of Oz. Aside from Katharine McPhee melting our hearts with her stunning rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow on American Idol a few years ago, Katie and I haven’t talked about the Yellow Brick Road in years.
Yet tucked in the back of our minds and hearts is a tender place for Ruby slippers, a girl named Dorothy, and a song about a rainbow that makes us both yearn for something. Something that reminds us of who we are. Something that reminds us of home.
Saturday we got to visit Katie. What a fine day it was. We went to the mall, ate lunch at Claim Jumpers, and then went bowling.
Before Katie went to Rogers I tucked a little masked bear in Katie’s suitcase that giggled when you squeezed its hand and said “Happy Halloween.” Since Halloween had passed I wanted to buy something cute for Katie to be able to decorate her room for Thanksgiving. I was certain Hallmark would have the perfect something. Much to my dismay, Hallmark no longer sells Thanksgiving somethings. They go directly from Halloween to Christmas without passing “Go” or “Collecting $200.”
Fortunately, though, our visit to card heaven was not a complete loss.
Katie and I browsed the aisles and perused the shelves. She spotted some beautiful Wizard of Oz collectibles towards the front of the store. There were figurines and snow globes and pictures frames. Katie was taken with a music box. Dorothy’s Ruby slippers were set atop a twirling slice of the Yellow Brick Road. The box played none other than Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
As I watched Katie hold the music box, all I could think about were the words that go hand in hand Ruby slippers. There’s no place like home.
Home. Even though she was right in front of me, Katie seemed completely lost. I wanted her to click her heels and say those magic words and come back to me. Instead, she set the music box down and said, “I love that song.” I said, “Me too” and then commented that the music box would make a lovely Christmas gift.
What Katie didn’t know was that those few minutes watching her look at the Wizard of Oz collectibles left an imprint on my heart. It made me both sad and hopeful. It was a treasured moment I didn’t quite understand. I just knew it mattered, and I knew I would never forget it.
As a result I began to pray.
Lord, bring my baby home. Bring her home. Don’t let her stay lost. Show her the way. Please, God don’t let her stay this way forever. Heal her. Bring her home.
I was still praying when I went to bed last night. I paused to read a few Psalms and then broke down and hugged my Bible as if it were a teddy bear. I held it as close to my chest as possible. I was literally, in the only way I knew how, clinging to My Father in Heaven. I was clinging to Him and pleading with Him for the life of my daughter. I was begging Him for change, for hope, for healing.
Mostly I was praying that when all of this work at Rogers was over that God would bring Katie HOME and that she would be able to STAY Home.
There’s no place like home. No place like home. Home.
I ended up falling asleep holding tight to my Bible. When I woke up, John told me he had rolled over in the middle of the night and landed on the Word of God. I informed him that God’s Word was always a good place to fall.
I assumed that was that. It was time to focus on other things for a while. I was looking forward to church. Our pastor is preaching a series called Beyond Belief. He is basically defining a biblical worldview which is one of my favorite subjects; so I was excited to hear what he had to say. Little did I know what was in store for me. Little did I even worry about it when I decided to sit in the third row with my good friends, the Baksha’s.
The welcome was over. Everything was going as normal when suddenly our worship leader caught me off guard by introducing a video clip in a way that made me tear up. In a nut shell he said There is a story about a girl who ran away from home and couldn’t seem to find her way back…
Katie ran away literally. I feel as though she can’t find her way back emotionally. The clip rolled. It was a scene from The Wizard of Oz. My jaw dropped. But not too much. It was only a coincidence.
Then, as the scene ended, the most beautiful vocalist in our church began to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow a capella. But she was not the highlight. The highlight, was a ballerina twirling across the stage. A ballerina dressed all in white, ribbons flowing softly from her skirt. Ribbons denoting every color of the rainbow. A flute began playing in the background as the spot lights faded from one color to another. It was surreal.
And I wanted to run. Yes, I said run.
Katie’s melancholy face looking at the music box. Me dancing in my ballet shoes to this song as a child. Katie twirling in her Dorothy costume, clicking her Ruby slippers. Me clinging to my Bible, begging God to work His Magic- His REAL Supernatural Healing on Katie in order to bring her Home. Each of these sights swirled before my eyes just as the Yellow Brick Road swirled around the land of Oz.
And the first thought that came to my mind was I hate you, God.
I can’t believe you would do this to me. What a sycophant you must be to torture me like this. To make me FEEL, HERE in front of all these people! To remind me of how utterly and completely desperate I am that I am dreaming of my daughter clicking her heels together and being well! How dare you! Why would you be so mean?
And then, as I watched the ballerina soar through the air; as the lights faded from green to blue to purple; as Rachel’s voice floated to the heavens, things began to come back into focus. Each note the flutist played seemed to breathe a new message into the air. Where troubles melt like lemon drops.
I felt the gentle touch of my friend’s hand reach out to me- my friend who struggles to show physical affection. With her touch came a soft unspoken whisper to my heart. Look again. See with different eyes. The whisper said I love you. This is a gift.
From that moment on, as I wept boldly from the third row, I didn’t want the song to end or the dance to stop. I wanted to dream a little longer of a place where blue birds fly, a place where dreams come true, a place where little girls who have lost their way- little girls who ran away from mommies and daddies who love them so very much- learn to click their heels together and say There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.
And I told God Thank You. And that I was sorry.
So When is a Rainbow Just a Rainbow? Or rather, When is it a Little Bit More?
I can’t really say.
But isn’t it amazing that God can orchestrate such a phenomenal symphony as this:
In 1972, He created a little girl who would love musicals. Eventually, that little girl would fall in love with the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow. She would create her own expression of this song through her love of ballet.
In 1993, He created another little girl who would fall in love with The Wizard of Oz and the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow, as well as Dorothy’s Ruby slippers.
On Saturday, November 1,2008, those same girls, who happen to be mother and daughter, would enjoy a special and seemingly insignificant moment looking at Wizard of Oz collectibles at Hallmark. That night, the mother would pray until she fell asleep that God would bring her daughter home, just as Dorothy went home in The Wizard of Oz.
On Sunday, November 2, 2008, a pastor would preach a sermon titled Where’s Home? The special music, planned months in advance, included a moving rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow performed by a ballerina expressing the song through dance. The mother just happened to be watching.
Divine Providence? A mish-mash of happenstance?
God being God and working in and through us as He always does.
So, what does the Rainbow Message mean? Does it mean Katie will come home? Does it mean nothing at all?
I have thought about it, and I don’t like to guess what God means by things he does- especially the ambiguous things. But this I can say with confidence. And I it is all I really needed today:
God heard me when I prayed. And He loves me and my daughter enough to remind me in a most incredible way!