I have an absolutely favorite song – most of you probably do. Mine is a song that I can listen to anytime, anywhere, and at any moment -- and no matter what I happening in my life it makes me smile. It is a song that takes me to a place that helps me through good times and bad. It is a song that reminds me of being in the theater in New York City hearing it for the very first time. Every time I feel down and need a lift – I listen to this song and it turns me around in ways that still surprise me. The song is “Defying Gravity” from the Broadway musical Wicked.
The musical is based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, which is written as a parallel story to the Wizard of Oz. It is the story of how two very unlikely young women, Glinda and Elplaba, become friends. As the story progresses through many twists and turns, Glinda becomes the Good Witch of the North and Elphaba becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. The musical is an intriguing and fascinating journey of friendship, betrayal, love and loss that brings the two women to their respective roles in the later Wizard of Oz.
The song, “Defying Gravity,” is sung by Elphaba after she makes a critical decision to take off on her own when her request to the Wizard is turned down and he uses her for his own purposes. You see – she was born unnaturally green and longed to be like everyone else. Her friend, Glinda, was a perky, popular blonde who seemingly had it all. Elphaba longs to be normal and when the Wizard turns her heart’s desire against her she flies off into the western sky being defiant about her desire to bring down his evil rule.
“Defying Gravity” is a special song for me. In it Elphaba is determined to go off to fight the wizard. Glinda tried to convince her to stay but to no avail. To the request for her to stay, Elphaba sings …
There are people in the world who do not want us to speak the truth. There are people who do not want to see the good in others. There are people out there who seemingly want us to fail. There are people out there who want to turn our heart’s desire against us. There are people who do not understand our passion or our zeal. There are people out there, like the Wizard, who want to bring us down.
Not me – I fly knowing that I am who God created me to be. I fly knowing that others are green like me – not like everyone else but still proud to be counter-cultural, truth speaking, and loving despite the hate in the world. I fly knowing that God wants me to call our church and our world into doing the right things. I fly knowing that I am doing what God called me to do – in my personal and professional lives. I fly knowing that nobody in all of Oz … no Wizard that there is or was … is ever gonna bring me down!
What a song!! See you in the sky!!