Journey Home with Wisdom, Love, Bravery

The Wizard of Oz came to mind the other day and, at the risk of being too simplistic, I believe it to hold the ingredients for emotional healing.

I lived in Africa as a teenager. My father embraced an opportunity for our family to live abroad as well as advance his career in the communication industry. My world was turned upside down as we left our home in Southern California—no beach, friends or Friday night football games? What! I resisted initially and yet the magic of Africa is hard to deny, even as a 16-year-old!

I hold this chapter in my life as an unearthed diamond, a treasure discovered. It became a lens that forever changed my vision of the world. I witnessed the extraordinary magic of African art, music, food, landscapes, traditions, and a cherished people with a resounding depth of tribal legacy. I can smell the rich, red clay dirt roads and envision my favorite market vendor with reams of vibrant material. I also recall being one of a few white faces in this same marketplace and the calm I felt when greeted by curious smiles, conversation and warmth, as well as my stomach anxiously twitching when I heard a few chant “serpent blanc” (white snake) as I walked by. I was mesmerized by the strength, stoic leadership of women, wrapping their infants tight, while carrying baskets laden with food and supplies on their powerful, unfaltering heads. With local friends and guides, we learned about our new territory, gained wisdom, adapted, found our way and felt loved. My parents, sister and I made a home in Bangui, Central African Republic.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was on a quest to return home. One man, “the wizard” was sought out to accomplish this mission. Her companions along the journey, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion were seeking what they believed they lacked; a brain, a heart and courage. They found out, the solution was not with the wizard, it was within each of them to attain what was missing.

In the strife and violence we have witnessed during this past week, our journey to find “home” requires wisdom, love and bravery today. The horror of seeing George Floyd grasp, plead and then lose his last breath is a collective trauma for our nation and the world. The protection which law enforcement represents was severely violated by this evil, dominating act against a Black man. Courage, wisdom, listening, compassion, respect and love are not colors. Now is the time for each of us to look within, find the courage to challenge limiting beliefs, engage in thoughtful reflection, learn more and gain wisdom, share compassionate understanding and employ respect to actively express love for one another.

The iconic Diana Ross played the role of “Dorothy” in the 1978 film “The Wiz.” I encourage you to pause and click on her moving message in the song “Home” from the film.

Brother Iz, truly a gentle giant, sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Enjoy his melodic version of this timeless song.