You’ll never guess who I’ve been thinking of all week. Well yes, Jesus of course! But someone else…she’s always saying things like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! – oh yes, this Mother’s Day I’m going there. Mary Poppins!
This week, I watched the new sequel Mary Poppins Returns. The film picks up 25 years after the original; the Banks children Michael and Jane are adults and the family is going through another crisis. One year has past since Michael lost his wife, his three children their mother; and now the family faces another tragedy – the potential loss of their family home, Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane. And so the magical, mystical nanny, Mary Poppins returns flying in on the end of a kite to guide them through the valley of deepest darkness back into a world of joy and laughter and love.
With all the trouble and tragedy going on in the world and in our lives, wouldn’t we all love Mary Poppins to pop in on the end of a kite string and offer us a bit of wisdom and fun? To show us once again how hope, love and imagination can free and shift our attitude towards life’s hardships.
If you think about it, the magic of Mary Poppins is not a flying talking umbrella, a bottomless carpetbag or the ability to jump inside chalk drawings, bath tubs and painted bowls and have marvelous adventures. Her true magic is her power to love everyone and be loved in return. That kind of selfless love does not deny another’s suffering, stress, or grief – that kind of love transforms, opening new doors when we are feeling lost or sad or afraid – opening us to see the world through God’s eyes – to believe everything is possible, even the impossible. The good news of the gospel today is that magic does not stay with Mary Poppins. We have this magic too – to love and transform our suffering world.
“When you change the view from where you stood, the things you view will change for good.” (“Turning Turtle” – Mary Poppins Returns)
This is what Easter is all about. This is what Jesus’ resurrection and return from the cross is all about! The grief and wounds may still be there, but they are transformed.
The suffering and struggles we experience in life may stay with us. But we can learn to live with them and relate to them in different ways. Grief and suffering do not have to claim all of who we are forever.
The goal of the Christian life is not to ignore or erase or move past the pain. “For pain that is not transformed will certainly be transmitted.” (Richard Rohr) The goal is to look upon the wounds with love and see God there.
This is what discipleship is all about – to lovingly pop in on someone’s life amidst their grief and struggles until the door opens to rediscover joy, love, creativity – until one is able to freely embrace a new life, new beginnings.
For the love born from the resurrection does not stop with Jesus or his disciples – it pops in to embrace those who suffer and grieve and struggle in all times and all places. We see this love popping in the Book of Acts, when Peter moves through his grief to courageously continue the work of loving, liberating and raising others to new life. We see this popping into Scripture in practically perfect ways like Psalm 23.
And when I look back on our four years of ministry together, this selfless Christ-like love is popping in this community. How we strive to help one another see and know that we are loved unconditionally. How we open each other to grow in freedom and joy in the midst of life’s sorrows and adversities. If you think about it, we’ve all been Mary Poppins-es to each other.
As Mary Poppins says, “Don’t stay too focused on where we’ve been that we forget to pay attention to where we’re going. Let the past take a bow, the forever is now and there’s nowhere to go, but up!” (Mary Poppins Returns)