In 1979, Jim Henson brought us The Muppets Movie. For those of us who grew up with The Muppet Show, it was a pretty exciting thing. The film opens with Kermit the Frog strumming his banjo right smack in the middle of a Florida swamp singing Williams’ and Ascher’s The Rainbow Connection.
As child, I had a knack for being able to pay attention to song lyrics. And as Kermit sang the second verse, the words just latched onto me, and staying with me ever since.
Here’s what it says:
Who said that every wish would be heard
and answered when wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it
Look what it’s done so far
What’s so amazing that keeps us star gazing
and what do we think we might see
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me
I found the question within the first two lines to be extremely loaded. It was the beginning of a line of questioning that began to dismantle the popular worldview I bought into as child. See if this sounds familiar: “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.”
Even at such an early age, life could not wait to shoot a dozen holes through Jiminy Cricket’s theory.
To put it mildly, I grew up with a father who wrestled with the bottle; and lets just say he kept on losing to it. When you’re just a child, you have very little options to deal with the rough hand life can deal you—other than to keep wishing on the stars. I was desperate for my dad to one day sober up. He never really did.
Now as an adult, having experienced my share of heartaches, failed relationships and broken dreams, you begin to realize that the whole wishing on a star message that most fairytales prescribe are just as unreal as the fairytales themselves.
And so, I get Kermit!
I get him when he asks,
“who in the world thought of that anyway?”
Why are we suckers for it? Look at the repercussions: the idea of reaching for the stars has done nothing but ensure that the long fall back to earth can be utterly painful. So painful is the crash that the only way to survive is to give up in dreaming altogether. Let the cynic win and protect you, or just medicate your way through life. These days, the wide-eyed child in me can hardly be found; he’s been replaced by a more sophisticated realist-skeptic.
But when I’m almost sure that the believer is gone,
a work of art will pinch a nerve, a new song will speak to my heart, a movie will haunt me, an encounter with nature will inspire me, and a conversation with a loved one will feed my soul.
Before you know it, there it is again: the idea that there is something out there for me to lay hold of, the notion that there is something that I am supposed to do and someone I desperately need to become.
The longing is intense. It is resilient to even the most practical lines of questioning and can survive the biggest letdowns.
Something keeps us stargazing, the song says. I love the next question, What do you think we might see? Destiny, Meaning, true Love… These things that are deeply ingrained in the crevices of our being.
And then, with no empirical proof, with no line of logic that resolves the issue, the song makes a bold promise: one day we will find what we’re looking for. The connection of it all.
The scriptures have always advocated that our longing for destiny, meaning and true love — our longing for more — is a burden laid to us by God. It seems it is supposed to serve as a homing beam that will lead us back to the source of life itself: God.
Jesus, over and over again, challenges us to get out of the state we are currently in, out of our own little swamp, so to speak. He asks us to seek, to pursue a pearl of great price, to step out of the comfort of a safe boat out into a stormy squall. All because there is something you’re suppose to find; furthermore, someone you are supposed to become.
Now, let’s get back to Kermie. Check out how he ends the song:
Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name
Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m supposed to be.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
My prayer for all of us, is that we wouldn’t let the cynic win. May we set our eyes toward the stars and listen to their call, and have the courage to seek what is outside of the swamp.
The Rainbow Connection is a popular song written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher. It was originally performed by Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) in The Muppet Movie in 1979. That same year, the song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, and reached #25 on Billboard’s “Hot 100 Singles” chart.