Sunflower Seeds logo

Sunflower Seeds


Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Can Prayer Be Our Ruby Slippers?

(Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Smithsonian Museum)

Toward the end of the movie, The Wizard of Oz, after her incredible adventures in the land of Oz, Dorothy wants nothing more than to return to Kansas. She tells Glinda, the good witch, that she wants to go home. Glinda says that Dorothy already has the power to go home. That power resides in her ruby slippers. Says Glinda, “Just tap your ruby slippers together three times, and keep saying, ‘There’s no place like home.'” Dorothy does as Glinda says and soon finds herself transported back to her beloved home in Kansas where she’s reunited with her loves ones.

Some people see this classic story of The Wizard of Oz as a parable of everyone’s pilgrimage from earth to our heavenly home. Earth is a kind of Oz. It is a place of goodness symbolized by Dorothy, her three traveling companions, a benevolent witch, and a loyal dog, Toto. But Oz (earth) is also a place where there is evil–for example, destructive forces like tornadoes, evil doers such as the Wicked Witch of the West, and conniving and dishonest people like the Wizard himself. If we buy into this parable, then Dorothy’s longing to go “home” is everyone’s longing for peace, security, acceptance, love, fulfillment. For Christians, Dorothy’s longing is our longing for our final home, heaven itself, or the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

What gives us the power to bring ourselves to our heavenly home? No, it is not tapping our ruby slippers together. No, it is not tapping our loafers, oxfords, high heels, or sneakers together either. Nor is it reciting some nostalgic words about home. In real life, the power that helps carry us home is our faithfulness to prayer.

Virtually every morning I, like many of you, begin my day with prayer. I get my cup of coffee and and sit in my living room chair and pray. And I’ve been doing this for over 60 years. Although, over the years, the venues have changed (and I have certainly changed!), the essential components of prayer remain the same: a specific time, a certain place, God, and me. I have some control over only three of those components: time, place, and my showing up. I have no control over how or if God might “show up.” But I can use aids for my prayer: scripture (of course!), silence, journaling, reciting the psalms, pondering a good book, gazing at art work, listening to music, communing with nature. No matter how I choose to pray, the aim is the same: To connect myself with God. To stay immersed in the Gospel. To grow in faith and love. To discover and stay on the path that contributes to the Kingdom God beginning here on earth and leads us to our final heavenly home.

There are other “powers” in our lives that give us direction too, of course, such as family, friends, serving others, love, joy, and even pain and sorrow. But prayer is one of the greatest powers we possess. We may never own a pair of ruby slippers, but if we remain faithful to prayer, we have the power to get ourselves “back home.” That’s why our prayer time is the most important “appointment” we keep every day. Using another image, I like to say that prayer is like a delicate, invisible thread that “tethers” us to God every day. As we journey through life, we will feel God’s gentle tugs on that tether or strong yanks at times! Whether a tug or a yank, the tether of prayer can keep us on the path that helps build the Kingdom of God here on earth and leads us to our heavenly home.

For reflection:

Does your own experience of prayer resonate with anything in this reflection?

Is there anything you would add about prayer?

Have you ever felt the gentle tugs or the strong yanks from God in your life?

PS: My rehab for hip replacement surgery continues to go very well. When I’m with my physical therapist, I have even walked the halls with only a cane–and that’s a major “step”! Thanks again for your prayers and concern!

Our song today is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” But I didn’t select the version sung by Judy Garland. Instead, here is the most popular version of the song ever recorded. And it’s sung by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, (known as IZ) a much loved musician and songwriter from Hawaii. It is said, he walked into a recording studio with his ukulele one day, sat down, and sang this song–improvising both the tune and the words. Then he left. This “one take” recording became a sensation. In his later years, IZ became a born again Christian. Having struggled with obesity his entire life, he eventually died of respiratory failure in 1959 at the age of 38. Thousands attended his funeral and later, the scattering of his ashes into the Pacific Ocean at Makua Beach. You will get a glimpse of that service at the end of this video.

I invite you to leave a comment below for all our readers. Thank you!

32 Responses

  1. Wow! Love this! The red slippers have been in the news recently for being found after someone in Minnesota stole them.

  2. Thank you Melanie for your creative inspiration. You are such a blessing to share your talents so generously. With a prayer, Sr. Julie, osf/t

  3. Thank you for these weekly reflections. They always touch me in some way. Today was significant. I’ve always loved this version of the song, we bought his album when in Hawaii several years ago.

    Continued prayers for you in your recovery!

  4. Thank you for these weekly reflections that stir my prayer and inspire me.
    Happy to hear your rehab is going well. Keep it up!

  5. Thank you Sister Melanie. Your reflection adds so much to my morning prayer time! A cup of coffee, or in my case 2 cups, scripture, Mass readings, reflection start my every day. Prayers for your continued healing.

  6. Thank you Sister Melannie for these beautiful thoughts. I too have a special time and space for morning prayer – our second floor sunroom where I can watch the changing seasons unfold among the backyard trees. For 20 years it’s been the anchor to my day. I also remember my mother insisting that she couldn’t leave the house until she had her morning prayer time – (something I couldn’t understand in my younger years).
    The image of prayer being our ruby red slippers taking us home – and that beautiful version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow (my favorite!) – my heart is filled with peace. What a wonderful way to begin the day! Thank you!

  7. Sr Melannie, Amazing- both your reflection and the beautiful music by IZ. What a gentle giant. I also have my sacred morning prayer time which is in the same spot at home (facing east). When I’m not at home, the only change is where I’m sitting and sometimes this makes me chuckle. Recently I was in a hotel with a roommate and the only spot that worked (so I didn’t wake her up) was the bathroom! So glad your recovery is going well.

  8. I loved this. I’m Tongi, who recently won American Idol sang this version of this song on the show. They remind me a lot of each other, both very obese, mild mannered and simple in the music they made. thanks you for sharing this video.

  9. Thanks Sr Melanie. It’s so true that our daily appointment of quiet, prayer, scripture and reflection are truly the ruby slippers that take us into the presence of God to be refreshed and renewed. Two simple aids are a simple publication on the daily readings from Goa called the Daily Flash and an international publication called the Word Among Us. (WAU) The WAU has a special ability to connect us with the Scripture and Sacraments in our daily life and most of all how we can make a difference. Today’s reflection encouraged us all to become the tasels on the robe of Jesus, so that we can can touch the lives of those we encounter by our words, deeds, touch, encouragement or even silent example.

    1. I, too, found the reflection from WAU about becoming the tassels on the robe of Jesus, especially moving. ❤️

  10. Today’s reflection really moved me Melannie. And then, adding one of my favorite songs at the end was perfect. I’ve always loved this arrangement sung by IZ. Of course, the analogy of the Wizard of Oz is perfect. Certain lines always stayed with me: “I know I have a heart cuz now its breaking,” Tin Man to Dorothy. And the wonderful, funny soliloquy on courage by the Cowardly Lion. So rich–is this movie. Thank you.
    S. Mary Ann Flannery

  11. Good morning , Sister. It’s good to hear that you’re recovering well from surgery. I have a special place for my morning prayers, too. They start before I open my eyes while I am waking up and continue before I start my day. I have never heard of the movie described this way. I’ve been in awe (the scared kind) all my life watching the movie because of the “bad” in the movie. Your description totally turns my feelings on their head. I can’t wait to watch it again to see if I feel anything different. The version of Over the Rainbow you share with us is so beautiful. I accidentally found it on YouTube about a year ago. I play it repeatedly. I didn’t know the back story on IZ. Thank you for all of the wonderful thoughts presented in today’s blog. I feel lighter and happier. Have a blessed day.

  12. Your reflections are always practical, inspiring, and down-to-earth. In that way, I can count on a “parable of the week”. Thank you.
    In my morning prayer, I find God in the depths of my heart and soul first. It’s true….”there’s no place like home.”

  13. Today’s topic is can prayer be our ruby slippers and my answer is yes it can be. I love the wizzard of oz because it brings me back
    memories of when i was a child from fallowing the yellow brick road all the way to the land of oz was a safe place i felt loved and cared for . Thank you to Margaret Hamilton and judy Garland for making the wizzard of oz movie because of your dedication to your fans both near and far i will continue to love the wizzard of oz for the rest of my life.

  14. Good morning Sr. Melannie, etal.,

    The “Wizard of Oz” was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater when I was 6 years old and I was terrified. That sense has never really left me and to be honest I avoid watching it when it comes on. My daughter, too was absolutely terrified of the monkeys scene and had nightmares for a long time. So, now with your idea of it being a parable, I am going to try to find it to watch again with that in mind.

    I also have a routine of praying first thing upon arising…in my special chair where my bible and other prayertime resources sit awaiting me. I love this time of the day…getting my mind and heart in a good place before I enter the busyness of the world.
    When my husband was alive, I would get up at least 45 minutes before him so I could have no distractions….I am easily distracted so I asked him to please not talk to me till I was finished, if he happened to arise before I was done.
    One day he put a note on the arm of my chair, which while it was not vocal noise, was rather like a scream that said “open me”. Needless to say, I had to look at it and on it he had written, “will you color my hair today?” I had some explaining to do after that!!!

    I too love that version of the song….it always stays with me for days after hearing it.

    Thank you and blessed healing,

  15. Thank you Sister Melannie for these great words. The song is definitely a favorite. So glad to hear you are doing well with your hip replacement therapy. My husband is having hip replacement surgery on the 14th. Praying all goes well for him as well. Have a blessed week.

  16. Thank you, Melannie, for this beautiful reflection on prayer. I want to share this with some of those who come to see me at JRH. And the video is great … the ending reminds me of a friend whose brother was laid to rest with the same ceremony in Hawaii. Today is my dad’s death anniversary, some 37 years ago. Seeing the video today reminds me of the joy we have shared as family! Thank you!

  17. Good afternoon, Sr. Melannie…
    Good afternoon, all…

    I think I echo many of the previous responses when I say morning is my favorite time to pray. I too like to pray with my coffee. I have Give Us This Day on a table next to the couch in the back room. Prayer time is usually between 4:30 and 5 — very quiet, very peaceful, very good. Once the day starts, however, my prayer becomes less structured, more like short, spontaneous bursts of prayer. Afternoon is not a good time for me, but I’m trying to improve.

    Glad your hip is improving! Thank you so much for IZ’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” — simply beautiful! PS: There were three pairs of ruby slippers on set. Afterwards a pair got stolen, the thief thinking there were actual rubies on the slippers!

  18. This version brought me back to my experience of a rainbow at my 30 day retreat at Cohasset! What a graced blessing then and today! Thank you!

  19. I found a column in my local paper on the subject of the ruby slippers so I just had to share. The guest columnist is a retired pastor. His site is
    The name of the piece is: Who stole the ruby slippers?

  20. Prayer -any kind- is so important to our day. I listen in to morning prayer with the sisters at the Heights. Then, as we wait for Fr Ross, I read the day readings. Fr does a great job of linking the daily prayer with us.
    Thank you for the reflection ideas to carry with us during each day.

  21. What a great new way to look at prayer. I really like that. It adds a new dimension to my praying. And I really like that version of Over the Rainbow — our son and wife chose that for their birth experience music with our first grandchild 21 years ago, so it’s always been special to me. thank you for the new perspective. Glad to hear your recovery is going well. My hubby had both hips done a few years ago and had a good experience as well and is so happy he got it done.

  22. Melannie, yes “The Wizard of Oz” was so exciting because that was one of the first movies we got to go to because it took an hour to be able to get to the movie. Mu three sisters and I loved it too and we learned all the music for “The Wizard of Oz”. My youngest sister, Ruthie, was born when I was eight years old. We remember when she was five she got the little red slippers and we would take turns singing her around in her little slippers!
    Just know I continue to pray that you feel a little better each day, and know that we will be with you online in April! Peace, dear one!

  23. Thank you Melannie for another profound reflection about something so familiar that lent a new perspective on seeking home. I have a favorite place & routine for morning prayer too that I look forward to every day after wake up and getting dressed. My day doesn’t proceed well without it. Loved the video of my favorite rendition of that song. I didn’t know the story of IZ so thank you for sharing.
    So happy your recovery & rehab is going so well. I pray for you every day. Love you,

  24. Thank you for this interesting and thought-provoking reflection, Sr. Melannie. The song, rather than the movie, has been a touchstone for me throughout my life, and IZ’s rendition has a sweet and pure quality that seems to be a perfect combination with the lyrics. Another version I love is by Eva Cassidy. Her beautiful voice pairs well with these lovely words in a way that brings tears to my eyes. My prayer time is just before lights out at night: I start with Jesus Calling, a daily reflection for young people that helps me soften my heart and remember the child within, then the daily mass and reflection in The Word Among Us, then Living Faith, and finally writing in my gratitude journal, Listen to the Spirit-He will Lead You. Taking time at the end of the day to reflect and remember my blessings and answered prayers helps me to relax and release my worries before sleep. I love the idea of my prayers being threads that keep me connected to God and centered on my path. I have a visual of being a small charm woven into a tapestry of peace and safety with my daily prayer threads. Each day’s prayers can then make the tapestry stronger. When my time comes, He can just roll me up and take me home!

  25. I have never heard The Wizard of Oz described in this fashion. Kind of makes it…less scary? Have to now revisit the story in my mind.
    My prayer time is also in the morning. Although when I prayerfully pause at the end of the day, it is usually rewarding and enriching, helping me revisit my day, seeing God’s hand.
    The idea of prayer tethering us conjured an image of flying a kite, God holding us tightly as we soar on or perhaps get buffeted by the wind.
    Praise and prayers for your continued healing, Sr. Melannie. Thank you for sharing your gifts in this important ministry.

  26. One small comment – IZ died in 1997 (he was born in ‘59). Way too young. The video of his fans following the funeral boat was very touching. Such a legacy to leave.

  27. I had a somewhat scary experience with prayer once. I was in a small group Bible study and the leader was a sweet, timid older lady. Another lady in the group was brash and insistent that her view was the ONLY view. She totally controlled the discussion, not listening to the leader’s request that others give their thoughts. I was really upset and prayed for a solution. At the next meeting the disruptive woman wasn’t there and I felt so relieved – until I heard she was in the hospital! Evidently she had a heart issue (minor). By the time she recovered the Bible study was finished. I heard later she got in trouble in the hospital for roaming the halls with her Bible upsetting other patients.

  28. Thank you Sister Melannie for your reflections on the Wizard of oz and the version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow by IZ which I have never heard. I too, begin my day
    with prayer, first listening to Pray as You Go which gives me an uplifting song and the Scripture of the day with a meditation. I also read a daily devotional called
    Jesus Calling. It focuses me on the Lord and His care for me which gives me strength and courage to begin my day.

  29. What a beautiful reflection. I have never heard the connection between the Ruby sleepers and our heavenly home, it was so beautiful. Thank you for the affirmation and the connection of prayer with our daily lives. My favorite version of “Somewhere ove the rainbow”

  30. Sister Melannie, this was beautiful. My husband and my granddaughter got ukuleles for Christmas. The Wizard of Oz was Charlotte’s favorite movies when she was little. Now both of them are playing this song.

    I agree with you about prayer in your life. I also begin my day with coffee, prayer and sitting in my comfy chair. Being retired, I find time throughout the day to pray. For so many people in my life. I am keeping you in my prayers. Do hope your healing will soon bring you good health.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Blog Posts

(I’m writing this reflection to commemorate June 19th [sometimes called Juneteenth, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day], the federal holiday that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States) Recently I read an article in the Smithsonian magazine (March 2024) by Cynthia Greenlee entitled “The Gospel of Truth.” It attempts

What does the devil look like? One traditional image of Satan is this: He is a man in a red suit, with horns and a tail, wielding a pitchfork. He is smiling–or perhaps sneering is the more accurate word–because he takes delight in tempting human beings to sin–and eventually to

Meet Sr. Melannie

Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

Subscribe to Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Upcoming Events

Finding God in the Ordinary and Amazing: An Afternoon with Sister Melannie

Sunday, May 19, 2024 – 1:30 – 4:00 Central – via zoom

Sponsored by the Portiuncula Center for Prayer – Frankfort, Illinois

Fee: Donation

For details visit: [email protected]

Weekend retreat at Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center, Pulaski, PA
October 11-13, 2024

October 11-13, 2024

Details to follow

Retreat with the Sisters of Loretto, Nerinx, KY
September 8-13, 2024

September 8-13, 2024

Details to follow

Retreat at Lial Renewal Center, Whitehouse, OH
August 11-18, 2024

August 11-18, 2024

Retreat at Heartland Center for Spirituality, Great Bend, KS
April 14-19, 2024

April 14-19, 2024

Details to follow