Saturday, November 03, 2012


When I was seven, I watched The Wizard of Oz and heard a song that transported me to a transcendent place. Judy Garland sang the song in the film, and she took me to somewhere far from my hometown of Pittsburgh, to a feeling of connection to an eternal emerald city. Somewhere Over the Rainbow. My father, a jazz guitarist, wrote an arrangement of the song for me to play on guitar. I played the song in a talent show at Saint Athansius School in West View, PA., the first time I performed on stage. The song, to this day, is very moving for me. It makes me think of my late father, and invites me to envision a place of infinite magnificence where my faith tells me my father and those I've loved and lost are still living there now.

Now, over forty years later, I live in California, near the intersection that used to house the drugstore where the song was composed. And I've learned in my studies of film history that the song was nearly excised from the film. The producers worried it slowed down the pace of the movie. I can relate to their struggle now as I am in post-production on my movie about Roberto Clemente. We shot a lot more footage than we can use, unless we make it a Clemente mini-series. I was talking with Mary Chin, post production supervisor, about this issue of discerning the thematic core of the film and building from that.

The backers of The Wizard of Oz argued vehemently that the song took the narrative off course from the journey to Emerald City. But wiser heads prevailed because they sensed the rainbow song spoke to something enduring and ineffable. The longing in the human heart for an eternal city. A safe place after the storms and hurricanes of life.

My mother in Pennsylvania called after Hurricane Sandy hit and said it was raining hard back home. Thankfully, the worst of the storm is over. After the rain comes the sun, the cleanup of the mess, and the rainbow - the sign of a covenant of grace.

Sometimes in life the storms are emotional, financial, and relational. When I've been my most depressed, I have on these dark glasses (metaphorically speaking), and things look bleak. I can't seem to will the black clouds away and then I think of the rainbow. Rainbows remind me the sun will shine again. As Emerson says, wait for your returning strength.

In the story of Noah, after the Great Flood, God sent a rainbow as a symbol of eternal grace. "I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth..." (Genesis 9) We make it through the storms, the sun comes back out and the rain ends, and thankfully, the rainbow magically appears and troubles melt like lemon drops a way above the chimney tops.

To my friends on the East Coast, the sun will shine again. The rainbow is on the way soon.


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