Journey to OZ
Our Franciscan retreat master, Fr. Johnpaul Cafiero OFM took us on a Journey to Oz this past week. His family holds one of greatest collections of the “Wizard of Oz” movie memorabilia, some 25,000 pieces. Father used some of these artifacts as props during retreat-even the Ruby Slippers of the stand-in for Judy Garland insured for $2 000,000.
Father’s fascination with the story of OZ and the retreat planned around the story has given us a roadmap to continue our Spiritual Journey to OZ and back home. “There is no place like home.” We are all working to reach that home with our loving God.
Three characters: the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tinman accompany Dorothy to Oz- all seeking and helping one another. Early in the retreat Father asked us to recall WISDOM figures in our lives, these people who inspired and guided us on our journey. I thought of three almost immediately. With further thought, these people parallel the three characters with Dorothy.
The Scarecrow was seeking wisdom. My Grandmother Villemure was a wise woman who showed me the importance of faith, family and friends in our lives. She had a deep faith, a large family and many friends. Each morning she took the youngest child, in a basket, to church with her, as she played the organ for daily Mass. She took in wash besides washing for her own large family to help the family survive. Meals on Sunday at Grandma’s table always had room and food for more, sharing generously. Each week Grandma played cribbage with her lady friends. Time was there for God, family and friends.
The Lion needed courage. My college Biology professor, Sr. Julia VanDenack, taught me about daring and courage. Sister Julia took us all over Wisconsin exploring Kettle Moraine, lakes, rivers, meadows, woodlands and dunes. Even though I stepped on a nest of ground bees receiving several stings that day and I sat on a colony of biting ants during lunch break another day, I walked on and I kept learning. We ate elderberry blossom pancakes, paddled canoes in Collins Marsh and slept in tents and hiked for miles. All these activities were done with courage to explore, to learn, and to become Science teachers like she was, in love with our world and its Creator.
The Tinman desired a heart. A group of friends from my St. Agnes/Holy Family School, Green Bay teaching days 40 years ago, have taught me compassion and what having a heart is all about. We have remained friends throughout our lives. We have been there through life’s ups and downs, in good times and in bad. Recently these friends were there
for the funeral of my brother. We have celebrated good times and cried together in sad times. This week we will gather at the home of one of the ladies, to eat and share this blessing of friendship.
The Journey to OZ has been filled with wisdom figures for me. Thank you Grandma, Sr. Julia and my Green Bay friends. I don’t have to search for courage, wisdom and compassion. You have been the faithful WISDOM figures in my life.