Dreaming of our Heart’s longing

Dreaming of our Heart’s longing May 17, 2024

Rainbow over the Stupa at Wat Phone Sa Ath Phatiya Moungkoun Buddhist temple, Laos
by Basile Morin

On the 17th of May in 1900 L. Frank Baum’s the Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published by the George M. Hill Company. It was an instant runaway bestseller. Within six months the first edition of ten thousand copies sold out. By the time it hit the public domain in 1956 it had sold a total of some three million copies. It would also launch a series of thirteen sequels.

There were numerous adaptations both for stage and three silent films.

However it’s importance as an enduring icon of American imagination was probably sealed in 1939 when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released it’s film adaptation, the Wizard of Oz.

Roger Ebert wrote of the film, “The Wizard of Oz has a wonderful surface of comedy and music, special effects and excitement, but we still watch it six decades later because its underlying story penetrates straight to the deepest insecurities of childhood, stirs them and then reassures them.”

It’s important to note another film adaptation, the Wiz in 1978. It was made with an African-American cast. The film was a failure at the box office. But over the years has become a cult classic, especially in the black community.

Given that the 1939 film was released when the world was already moving from a global depression into a global war, the anxiety it addressed was deeper even than our childhood fears. And, which, I believe, is one reason the Wizard continues to haunt us with dreams of something better, something hopeful over the rainbow. I think of the book. I think of the 1939 film. I think of the 1978 film. Each opening aspects of this deep longing.

Here we get an ancient archetype of the heart. A sense of loss. A sense of exile. And a dream of home.

This dream has launched a million spiritual quests.

And with that I find myself thinking of that one song from the film.

There have been endless covers. Some quite heartrending…

Maybe we’re more aware of that longing for something during hard times.

This sense of longing is the great common human experience. It is the source of all religion, the thing that drives all hope.

Of course, there is a secret hidden within that longing. And it is the thing which I find offers a magical moment in that original film.

So, the great question.

Where is that secret place of the heart?

Where is home?

Where is the other side of that rainbow?

Where is it really?

About James Ishmael Ford
James Ishmael Ford is a Zen teacher and a Unitarian Universalist minister. In addition to the blog Monkey Mind, he writes a spiritual newsletter Unanswered Question at jamesiford.substack.com You can read more about the author here.
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