“Ruby Slippers” is the title of the final chapter of my book, Teach Us to Want, and I’m often asked about the significance.
Just last week, I met with a small group from my church who had recently finished reading the book, and several people wanted to make guesses about the meaning of the ruby slippers. One interpretation was particularly clever.
“The ruby slippers were taken from the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East when Dorothy’s house fell on her. Dorothy puts them on, but the Wicked Witch of the West chases her and wants to kill her. So the ruby slippers represent the potential dangers of desire and how desire might possibly lead us astray.”
Um, no. But really good try!
Because the subtitle of chapter 10 is “commitment,” I really meant ruby slippers to represent the journey of desire—and all that’s required for that journey, especially courage and resilience. It’s a risk to examine our desires. What might we discover about ourselves in the process? It’s a risk to admit our desires to others. What will they make of us? And of course, it’s also a risk to pray our desires—not because God can’t be trusted with our vulnerability, but because in praying our desires, we’re also surrendering them to the possibility of divine interruption and change.
But before I clarified all of this for this particular group, another man ventured his guess. I had never met him before.
“Well, Dorothy puts on the ruby slippers so that she can get back home. And I think that’s where desire is always leading us. Home.
We want home more than anything else in this world.”
Um, HELLO?! Did you know that I’ve written an entire book about the longing for home?
Teach Us to Want was published in July 2014. I certainly had no plan for my second book, Keeping Place, which releases in two weeks. But maybe “ruby slippers” is the giveaway that when I took my own journey of desire, it would lead me to longings for permanence. Longings for safety and stability, for rest and refuge.
I’m going to tell you a little bit more about Keeping Place in the next couple of weeks here on the blog. I’ll be posting an excerpt from the preface and some behind-the-scenes looks at the writing of the book. I’ll even share with you some original poetry that I’ve written. I hope it’s helpful to you in some way, and as always, thanks for reading along!