Saturday, 22 August 2015

You Get the Stars Thrown In: By the Way for the Medicine Hat News

This November I get to join a very talented and lively intergenerational group of Hatters in Medicine Hat Firehall Theatre’s production of Mary Poppins. I’ve never seen a stage production of it. Like most people I saw the Julie Andrews movie aeons ago. It would be easy to think of it as a rather frothy, frivolous tale if wasn’t for the more recent 2013 movie Saving Mr Banks starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson which includes something of the story of Mary Poppins author PL Travers’ complicated and sad relationship with her own father.

Also, as I’ve burrowed into the script to ready myself for rehearsals, underneath the fun and fantasy I’ve discovered a rather moving story of delivery from a repressed, joyless past, thwarted dreams and cold, calculating materialism to new life-giving relationships as Mr Banks rediscovers what really matters in life, especially Winifred, his wife, and Jane and Michael, their children.

These words from the finale capture something of Mr Banks’ transformation and resonate for me in my own life and as a follower of Jesus: “If you reach for the stars, all you get are the stars, but…If you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in.”

Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College and a noted Catholic apologist and philosopher, once wrote: “In an age of hope men and women looked up at the night sky and saw “the heavens." In an age of hopelessness they call it simply “space.” What was once the heavens inhabited by God and the Angels is, for many, now simply space; full of stars, even fascinating, but an endless, lifeless vacuum. That to which humanity once looked for direction; the Magi, for instance, who followed a star to the Christ Child; is now just space.

When the heavens become simply space in those areas of our lives where we most need hope and guidance, we are the poorer for it. In Mary Poppins Mr Banks is delivered from his joyless, cold, hopeless space full of nothing but numbers when he learns to reach for a hope-filled heavens where he can learn to love his family again.

Jesus entered the world’s stage to do the same for you and me. He came to re-enchant our world and deliver us from the hopelessness, sin and death of simply space. Jesus is the way to reach for the rich, hope-filled Heavenly joys of loving relationships with God and one another—and we get the stars thrown in.

(Mary Poppins runs November 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28th at the Esplanade. Tickets are on sale now.)