Marvels, Wizards, and Wardrobe
May 26, 2023
On Sunday, June 4th, we will be honoring Gay Pride Month by celebrating "The Theology of The Wizard of Oz," and exploring some of its relevance to UU spiritual journeys--with a First-Sunday lunch afterwards (that I hope may contain some rainbow desserts!). We will also be recognizing new members at this service.
Now, just as a "teaser" before the service, I thought I'd tell you a story about the actor Frank Morgan, who played "Professor Marvel," the traveling sideshow man that Dorothy meets before being whisked off to the Land of Oz. (He also played the Wizard of Oz himself.) Well, it turns out that when they were filming the movie, they needed a coat for Professor Marvel that would look old and shabby--but also suggest something that was once rather fine--what they called "grandeur gone to seed." So the MGM wardrobe department sent some people to a second-hand store in Los Angeles, and they came back with about 50 coats to choose from. The one the actor and the director agreed on was an old Prince Albert coat with a velvet collar. It fit Frank Morgan perfectly.
Now, as they were shooting the scene, it was rather hot, so Frank Morgan found himself sweating, and between shots he turned out the pockets to let them dry a little. When he did, he noticed that the name of the tailor was written on one of the sleeves, followed by the name of the person the coat had been originally designed for. They were a little surprised at the name of the owner, so they called the tailor to be sure, and he said yes, he had made it for that person. After the movie was made, they gave the coat to the widow of the man it had been made for, and she said yes, it was originally her husband's coat.
O.K. Who was the mystery man--the one the coat had originally belonged to? Drum roll, please... It was L. Frank Baum, the author of the original "Wizard of Oz"!
A story like this almost sounds too good to be true, but I checked with snopes.com to make sure it was not just an urban legend: It really did happen!
Whether you find meaning behind coincidences like that, I hope you'll remember the larger truth that we are all part of a very interesting web of existence (what Dr. King once called a "single garment of destiny"), where things we say and do--and even things we donate to thrift shops!--may impact others whom we will never know. To me, that's the real wizardry--the real marvel, "Professor Marvel"!--that we all leave behind traces of our lives. And we don't have to know all the people those traces may touch, to know that they will touch others--perhaps in a place we can refer to as "somewhere over the rainbow."
No matter how old you get, don't lose your marvels.
peace and unrest,