THE PRICE OF MEMORIES
The memory of the righteous is blessed. (Proverbs 10:7)

The Wall Street Journal recently featured an article about the history and hopes for the costume worn by the cowardly lion, Bert Lahr, in the The Wizard of Oz. The classic film celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and one man seeks to take advantage of the focus. The owner of the 60 pound lion skin had put it up for auction at Bonhams Auction House. He hopes for a seven figure bid.

The sale of the lion skin will enable its owner to expand his museum in California that features Hollywood nostalgia. In addition to the cowardly lion costume, he owns Burt Lahr’s script with the actor’s handwritten notes, and the Play it, Sam piano from Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Berg-man. Sale of the costume will enlarge his collection and maintain the other items he rotates from storage units in CA.

Most of us have our top ten list of favorite movies. The Wizard of Oz remains on mine and still holds first place. When I was little, I recall that whenever The Wizard of Oz was to air on television, it was announced for several weeks beforehand. It typically aired on a Sunday night, and that meant my mother and father would let me stay up late to watch it even though it was a school night. Those were days before you could record a broadcast. If you wanted to watch it, you had to be right there in front of the television. I was. My mother would make special snacks and our family would watch the movie.

At the end of the movie, when Dorothy hugs her little dog, Toto, and says And, oh, Auntie Em, there is no place like home, I would always cry. My mom and dad would smile affectionately. What a comforting feeling to go to bed after the movie was over and feel the love of home and family. As much as those childhood memories mean to me, what happened as an adult stirs me also. When I was away at college, and after college when I had my own home, when the movie was on I would watch it. At the end of the movie I would get a phone call from my mother and father asking Are you crying? in a warm way. I was. We would laugh over my tears. They knew that even as an adult, the final scene went straight to my heart.

Seven figures for the lion’s costume? Quite a sum. But there is not a price high enough to match the value of precious memories a heart holds. Physical symbols mean much, and we all have sentimental items that trigger memorable times and places. Dear as those items are, what lives inside of us is beyond measure. At Christmas, we are especially sensitive to the memories we have made with certain people. And, we are mindful of making new memories to be added to the life story that it is our own.

Christmas, other holidays, and routine days, may be challenging when life changes and certain people no longer share our lives for reasons such as death, estrangement, dementia or military service. Their absence can be painful. Longing for what was, laughter remembering times gone by, and pangs of regret, can surface at different times—unbidden. Jesus is the One, the only One, who can take our yesterdays and make them meaningful. He does what His Word says He will do, Work all things together for good for those who love Him, and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Some memories are wonderful; some require the synthesis of the Holy Spirit to bring them to maturity and acceptance. The Lord knows what is needed to make the difference. By faith we trust Him to do so.

If I had seven figures to shower out donations and meet needs of many kinds, I would have lots of fun. There are people and organizations I would get a thrill out of blessing. Acquiring a famous cowardly lion’s skin would not be in my plans. But someone out there may have a deep purse and a spirit that would like to own the costume. As for me, my childhood and adult memories of the movie, and my parents and their love for me shall
forever glow in my heart and be more than enough when I think of The Wizard of Oz. For most of us, the glow of memory is the priceless treasure we get to keep; a treasure that seven figures or higher could never buy.

Lord of Bethlehem, we come before You humble and thankful for all the grace that You have given to us that lives on in memory. Thank You for countless memories of love. We pray Your peace and comfort for those who do not have warm memories and for those who grieve. Because You came down to us from Heaven, we celebrate Your closeness and rest in faith that one day we will be with You in Heaven, and with all those we love that You called Home before us. Until then, Thank You for the gift of Your Presence, salvation, memory-making in this life, and the grand tomorrow promised to all who believe in You by faith. Thank You for Your promise that the memory of the righteous is blessed. In You, Loving Jesus, Amen.

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