the Wizard speaking to the Cowardly Lion in
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
I walked to and from elementary school every day. It was a pretty straight shot, only one turn. At the end of the day, a boy from my class plucked up some courage and asked me to walk home with him. He stomped through the snow (way past our knees!) ahead of me so I could walk in his tracks. About halfway home, we saw a dog coming toward us.
My older sister taught me to be afraid of dogs, but that’s a story for a different day. This dog was big and blond. It loped toward us at about 50 miles an hour, tongue and tail wagging. It looked like it was smiling. “The better to eat you up, my dears!” Howie was looking back at me with so much horror on his face that I knew he was more afraid than I was. Unbelievable! but true.
I did the only thing my second grade brain could think of. I told the dog in my best imitation of courageous forcefulness, “Go home, dog!” A miracle happened...it turned around and (probably) went home.
In the middle of Hanukkah, in these days of miracles, I think of the courage of a small band of Jews, willing to die to preserve their faith. And the miracle--they defeated a whole army. They rededicated themselves to their way of life.
Courage comes with many faces. Dogs are not armies, even big, blond dogs that smile. Although Judah Maccabee and his followers inspire me, I seldom feel courageous. I will work on that.