Today is Halloween, and I thought it would be a fitting day to introduce you to Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West. But I do not address her by that title. At the beginning of the month I talked about reading Wicked and how that has become an annual tradition and I wanted to end the month blogging about some of the reasons why Elphaba is so special to me. Elphaba is one of the few literary characters that bridged the gap from page to heart and changed me.
Elphaba taught me to see the world in color. As I read through Wicked I came to understand that the world is not black and white. While I do believe in moral absolutes, I also recognize that our lives in a broken world do not allow for clear distinctions all the time. And our interpretations of other’s lives and choices (as well as our own) need to be seasoned with grace. Elphaba’s choices were made out of her strong convictions of what was right, and she was vilified and alienated because her actions were unpopular. I need to be very, very careful before casting judgements of “right” and “wrong” at people. In fact, God specifically tells us not to judge because we cannot see hearts and motivations of people, we only see their actions through the lens of our perceptions. Elphie’s life showed me that it’s God’s place to decide who is really “wicked” and it’s my place to give love, forgiveness, and grace.
Elphaba has also challenged me to live courageously. When confronted with injustice and mistreatment towards the marginalized of society, Elphie didn’t bury her head in the sand and say that “the problems are too big, I’m only one person” She acted. She was willing to sacrifice everything – her plans for the future, her friends, her inheritance, her reputation – to rescue and protect the innocent. Her dedication provokes me to ask if I have that kind of conviction, and too often, I come up short compared to her. I struggle with desiring comfort and happiness instead of focusing my life to be a blessing and help to others. Though Elphie often feels ineffectual, she doesn’t give up. I pray that I would be that ferocious in fighting for justice, in spending myself in the service of the poor and oppressed, and in bringing joy and comfort to others.
Lastly, my Elphie reminds me of the wonder and eternal hope of redemption. Throughout her life, Elphie doubts that she has a soul, that she is a whole person. She contemplates the issues of faith and the nature of good and evil. Only in her death does she realize that her soul has always been held all along. I’d like to include my favorite passage from Wicked, when Elphaba sees herself in Dorothy:
“I see myself there: the girl witness, wide-eyed as Dorothy. Staring at a world too horrible to comprehend, believing — by dint of ignorance and innocence — that beneath this unbreakable contract of guilt and blame there is always and older contract that may bind and release in a more salutary way. A more ancient precedent of ransom, that we may not always be tormented by our shame. Neither Dorothy nor young Elphaba can speak of this, but the belief of it is in both our faces…” – Gregory Maguire
Thank you Father God, for preparing a way before the foundation of the world to release us from the bondage of sin and shame. Thank you, Elphie, for changing me…. for good.
Blessigns to you,