Surrender Dorothy – Part I: She’s With Me

There are countless ways to interpret the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. A significant thread for me lately has been to think of Dorothy as the Divine Child within each of us … whom we must not surrender.

Dorothy is our deep wisdom. Dorothy is the . Dorothy is the thing we long for that we can’t name because we can’t see it yet. Dorothy is the awakened part of ourselves, wanting to express herself. Dorothy is not wounded. Dorothy is from a magic place, from the sky.

When Dorothy lands in Oz, things change. Glinda the Good Witch sings, “When she fell out of Kansas / A miracle occurred.” Dorothy destroys part of the existing power structure – the Wicked Witch of the East – and throws things out of balance. And that witch’s sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, comes to put things back the way they were.

The Wicked Witch represents the same thing as the mythological Dragon, which Joseph Campbell characterized as the guardian of The Way Things Are. “[T]he dragon … is precisely the monster of the status quo: Holdfast, the keeper of the past.” This force within us and around us is the Dragon guarding its hoards of treasure; the Stepmother Queen (who kills anything that threatens her beauty); the Pharaoh or Herod that kills the baby boys; and it doesn’t want anything to change. It’s the system. It’s the unhealthy Ego.

And so of course the Witch will do whatever she has to, to kill Dorothy.

In my early 30s I was new in my teaching career, trying new things, inventing and borrowing innovations for grading and instruction. Before long, I understood my older colleagues’ overt and implied messages that all this crazy new stuff is fine, but once you’ve been to one conference about new things, you’ve been to all of them, and there’s nothing new under the sun; simmer down, boy.

It is hard for us true believers to accept this. It is also hard for us not to be crushed by it. [1]

I didn’t give up, but to keep being hopeful and innovative takes courage … and it’s hard work. Look at how hard it is for Dorothy.

Dorothy and her friends make it to the Emerald City, which welcomes and celebrates them. But the Witch follows her, and writes in the sky the words “Surrender Dorothy.” The Wicked Witch’s message isn’t to Dorothy; it’s to the Emerald City. This is a trade: “Give Dorothy to me – or I will punish you.”

To avoid destruction, the god at the center of the City, the Wizard, sends Dorothy to destroy the Witch. She’ll never make it, of course. The Witch will be appeased. Problem solved.

I am the Emerald City, the big machine with many moving parts. And there’s a Wizard in the center of me that pretends it’s God, but it’s really just my fear. It wants to stop Dorothy, so it sabotages her, sends her on ridiculously impossible tasks. I self-sabotage so that my deep dreams won’t come true. I’m afraid to change, to risk. The seemingly-safe parts of me shout, “We’ve got to quit! Run! We can’t help you, Dorothy – the Wizard won’t see you today. Go away and come back tomorrow.”


Today, in this Now, my Divine Child is still here. Inside me. I know it.

My Innocent Child, my Divine Spark, the Imago Deiat my core, is not for sale or trade. I gave it away for decades out of allegiance to the things I was taught, that were modeled for me, reinforced for me, rewarded-or-punished in me. But that’s no way to live into the next season of my life. Fuck that. I’m 57 years, 8 months, and 9 days old. I don’t know if I have 1 day left here or 30 more years here. But either way,

I will not Surrender Dorothy. You can’t have her. She’s with me.

Next, Surrender Dorothy Part II: Fire And Water

[1]The same thing happened when I became a pastor in a large denomination, and then again when I was a pastor in a large church. The folks who had invited me to come into those worlds had promised me that I could help things change. But both systems tried to kill me. Nothing at a large, system-wide level changed there … but small things did. And the way I believe Spirit works, those are the only things that matter anyway. And oh, by the way, I didn’t die.

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