I watched The Wizard of Oz, once again, for the umpteenth time (and I didn’t hide in my room when the twister came!). I was struck during this viewing at just how quickly Dorothy wanted to go back home to Kansas. For someone who longed for somewhere over the rainbow, she sure wanted to get back to bleak, boring-looking Kansas in a hurry. In Kansas, she felt unheard, maybe even unwanted, while in Oz there were all sorts of creatures who wanted to help her and truly enjoyed her company. Even though Oz seemed to be everything that Dorothy could have wanted, she wanted out. There was no place like home. But she needed the help of others, and she needed to help others in order to get there.
Many of the patients I visit in the hospital don’t want to be in the hospital. They would rather be home. Most of the people I visit in jail don’t want to be in jail. They would rather be home, as well. Since they are not where they want to be, I often encourage them to see the good that might be happening because of where they are, whether jail or hospital. Some see more opportunity or purpose than others.
Meet Emily, a 65-year-old woman who chose to go to jail rather than do work-release or electronic monitoring for her DUI case. She had requested a conversation with the chaplain because of a death in her family. She briefly talked about the death, mostly noting that she was the one that usually took care of taking care of everyone in the family at times of death and tragedy. She shared that she chose to go to jail. She realized early on after getting arrested, that she had something to offer her fellow inmates. Her life experiences and her faith prepared her to meet these women where they were, as they were.
This is the very embodiment of Christ that we celebrate and confess. God becoming one of us. Jesus meeting us where we are, as we are. As God loves us, so we love others. While most of us wouldn’t choose to be incarcerated, we can choose to intentionally go where there is a need for loving relationships. For those who don’t have the gift or inclination to intentionally go, remember the many everyday interactions you have with people. Every one of those interactions is an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, to be a positive feature of their day which is so often marked by negativism and chaos. Wherever you are, whether in Oz or Kansas or somewhere in between, let your love overflow to everyone.