Monday, August 21, 2006

The Wizard of OZ

It is one of America's best-known and loved stories -- that of a kansas girl named Dorothy who was caught up in a cyclone and whisked off the Land of OZ. OZ, we are told, is a country of marvelous beauty with green fields and stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruit. There is a sparkling little brook and banks of gorgeous flowers. As Dorothy gazes upon this beautiful land, she becomes aware that she is being stared at by the strangest group of people who we later learn to be Munchkins.

Dorothy feels a bit lonely among these kind strangers and is really a bit anxious to return home to her family, but no one seems to know the way. The Munchkins tell her all they can, suggesting that maybe the great Wizard who lives in the Emerald City can assist her. So Dorothy sets off down the Yellow Brick Road for the Emerald City to meet the wonderful Wizard of OZ.

Along the way, Dorothy meets three odd characters who also have a need to see the Wizard: a cowardly Lion who wants courage, a Scarecrow who wants a brain, and a Tin Man who wants a heart. Though Dorothy knows neither he way nor the Wizard, she invites her now-found friends to make the journey with her. Perhaps together they will find their way to the Emerald City and the great and wonderful Wizard of OZ.

It turns out to be quite a journey. Whenever this band of travelers encounters danger, it is the Cowardly Lion who manages to help them find their way safely. Whenever they meet an obstacle that requires careful planning, it is the Scarecrow who comes up with the winning idea. And though he lends a helping hand, it is the Tin Man who slows their pace because he is so overcome by the plight of others that his tears rust his working parts.

Finally, they arrive at the Emerald City and gain an audience with the Wizard -- but it turns out the Wizard is not a wizard at all, but a phony magician from Omaha. He is of no help -- none that is, until he discovers and reports to them that things like courage, the ability to think and to love are not things he can give them but rather are qualities that are developed in relationship with others. And through their experience together, the Cowardly Lion has developed courage, the Scarecrow has used his brain and developed the ability to think, and the Tin Man was shown that he already has a heart filled with love.

And with that discovery, the Wizard who was not really a wizard, becomes a Wizard.

And as for Dorothy, she discovers a deeper understanding and appreciation for the meaning of family as she lives among those who share their life and love in a common search for meaning.

A brief summary of the book, The Wizard of OZ, by L. Frank Baum.