A little girl at a church I served was asked to be in the annual Christmas pageant. The little girl readily agreed and volunteered to play the part of Dorothy. The director of the pageant responded by informing her that Dorothy was a character in the Wizard of Oz, not the Christmas story.
The little girl was adamant. “I want to be Dorothy!” She cried.
The director of the pageant, with great patience, gently coaxed the little girl to agree to play the part of the Christmas angel, instead of Dorothy. This diversion tactic proved successful. From that point on, the rehearsals proceeded smoothly with the little girl taking on her role as the Christmas angel with happiness and a good deal of enthusiasm.
Christmas Eve arrived and the pageant was performed to a packed house of admiring parents and grandparents. At the end of the pageant, in beautiful candlelight, everybody sang “Silent Night”. It was in the silence that followed the singing of the carol that the little girl’s beautiful, high-pitched voice was heard sweetly singing, “Somewhere over the rainbow….”
That little girl was determined to be Dorothy. She simply refused to give up her dream.
Too often dreams lie shattered at our feet. We lose our jobs. Marriages rupture. Our kids go astray. Some would counsel to let the future take care of itself and live in the present moment. And yet, to dream of a better day, to dream of a new future, to refuse to give up being “Dorothy”, is not only crucial to our personal well-being, but also has been a dominant motif in human history.
The Jewish people wandering in the desert for 40 years never gave up their dream of reaching the “promised land.” The African-American slaves, and those who lived post-slavery in the oppressive atmosphere of a segregated south, never stopped singing their songs of freedom. Those who lived behind the “Iron Curtain” never gave up their dream of seeing the walls came “a’tumblin’ down”. In our times, those who live in Syria, Iran, and North Korea may be deprived of their human rights, but those who rule over them cannot take away their dreams. They do not have that power.
Collectively, we find strength in sharing a dream, but individually it can be far more difficult to hang onto them. One time, I asked a young man who had spent time in prison what I could do to help him. His answer was, “Pay attention to me when you see me on the street.” His dream was not to be reduced to invisibility. He was clinging desperately to his dream of being something more than a statistic on a convicted criminal list.
Nobody really knows what God is doing or thinking when dreams are reduced to remnants. I am also certain that no religion can wave a magic wand and bring an instant “fix” to a shattered dream or an uncertain future. If there is a good God in the heaven, however, that God must be weeping over every dreamless or hopeless life. If God is a good, then God must also be in the dream restoration business. God may not change our circumstances, but God does touch our hearts and encourages us NOT to live in despair, NOT to lose hope, and NEVER to give up on our dreams! A good God assures us that there is and always will be a “somewhere over the rainbow….”