Saturday, October 10, 2015

"Feed The Birds" - Mary Poppins & The Synod On The Family

I just love the song "Feed The Birds", a beautiful little paean to compassion from the movie Mary Poppins:

All around the Cathedral the Saints and Apostles
Look down as she sells her wares
Although you can't see it, you know that they're smiling
Each time someone shows that he cares

It's evident, I think, that it's compassion for the "little old bird woman" herself, and not merely for the birds, that brings joy to the Saints and Apostles.
     Below I also provide a few thoughts on why the Bishops gathered in the Synod on the Family would do well to watch Mary Poppins before they do anything else.

     I think it could only help if the bishops assembled in Rome for the Synod on the Family took a couple hours off to watch the movie Mary Poppins.  Since they seem interested in talking about everything but "The Family", taking a little film break can't hurt, but more than that, they need to see this movie.
     I say this, by the way, as someone who is decidedly not a Disney fan.  My children saw few Disney movies growing up, none more than once, except this one.  Sure, it has it's flaws (not the least of which is Dick Van Dyke's atrocious attempt at a cockney accent), and it's share of Disney goofiness, but there's something beautiful about it.  At the beginning, the family is falling apart, and moving in opposite directions: the father, Mr. Banks, is so caught up in his career that barely notices his surroundings, including his wife and children; Mrs. Banks devotes most of her attention to political advocacy, and the neglected children, Jane and Michael, respond by running wild and tormenting the governesses to whom the parents leave the task of "molding" their "breed".  That is, until Mary Poppins becomes their new governess.

Jane Darwell as the bird woman in Mary Poppins
     Much of the fun in the film comes the magical adventures the children experience in the company of Mary Poppins: jumping into sidewalk drawings, visiting a house where laughing causes them to float up to the ceiling (and where they can only come back to earth by thinking sad thoughts), flying up through the chimney and dancing on the London rooftops, and so on.  The most magical thing Mary Poppins does, however, is to bring the divided family back together . . . and then take herself out of the picture, sacrificing her own feelings so she won't come between them.  The movie ends with Parents and Children united in love, and Mary Poppins, the catalyst, quietly moving on to her next assignment.
     It certainly couldn't hurt the Synod Fathers to take a little break from their deliberations, where, if we can trust the news reports, they seem to be paying little attention to anything that could reunite the family.  After the film, they might want to take a look at the Book of Malachi, whose closing verse starts with the same theme we see at the end of Mary Poppins :

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers (Malachi 4:6)

But that's not the end; the second half of the verse, the final words in the Old Testament, leave us with a warning:

lest I come and smite the land with a curse.

Let us please pray that the Lord grant our shepherds the wisdom to heed His Word.