Last week I saw the new movie, Mary Poppins Returns. I loved it! Although nothing can replace the original Mary Poppins, I still loved this sequel with its beautiful music, lively dancing, and its array of memorable characters. I loved the creative scenes—swimming underwater, flying in the sky with a balloon, dancing in a topsy-turvy world with Meryl Streep, and watching the lamplighters dancing wildly with their lamps and doing acrobatics on their bikes.
The new songs were wonderful too. But my favorite one was “The Place Where Lost Things Go.” It is a lullaby that Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) sings as she is tucking the three Banks children into their beds. The children, John, Anabel, and Georgie, are missing their mother who died within the past year. Mary understands the pain of their loss, and sings the tender song to them.
This time of the year, we may be missing “lost things.” Perhaps at our holiday gatherings, we were missing a loved one who was no longer there. I know I was….Mary Poppins begins the song with these words: Do you ever lie awake at night, searching for the things you used to know?
I thought: such things can be people… places… memorable experiences… or perhaps just the way things used to be when the world seemed to be a simpler place.
She continues: Do you ever dream or reminisce, wondering where to find what you truly miss?
How many people today are truly missing things such as a slower pace to daily life… less “stuff” … greater unity… more civility in discourse… Or how many people are missing parents… children… grandparents… a sibling… a beloved friend… a dear pet… a cherished home… good health… or even energy and vitality?
Mary continues: though they’ve disappeared, nothing’s gone forever, only out of place…. Spring is like that now, far beneath the snow.
When I gaze out my window this time of year, everything looks dead. The trees are bare… the grass is covered with snow… many birds are gone… the chipmunks are hibernating… the insects have vanished. Sometimes it takes great faith to believe that spring will ever come.
How true for those children. Their dear mother’s very DNA lives inside of them. And can’t we say the same thing about the loved ones we are missing? Those who played such significant roles in our lives are living inside of us in a very real way simply by the influence they have had on us.
Mary ends her song with these comforting words for the children about their mother: When you need to touch her… trust she’s always there, watching as you grow… Find her in the place where the lost things go.
As I watched the movie, hearing this song for the first time, my eyes filled with tears. At my age (74), so much of my life has already been lived. So much is behind me, in the past. So I have more “lost things” to miss, to grieve, to mourn. At the same time, I have more “lost things” to give thanks for!
Our Christian faith can help us deal with all the “lost things” in our life–especially loved ones. It tells us that death is not the end. It is a transition to a new and everlasting life. Death is not a wall separating us from those we love. It is a door through which we will pass one day and be reunited with our loved ones. The poet John Shea describes eternity in this way: it is the place where the laughter of reunion leaps on the far side of loss. He also says we must trust the larger Mystery that connects us beyond separations. That Mystery, of course, is God. In one very real way we can say that God is the place where lost things go.
Now let’s listen to Emily Blunt singing the song by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, “The Place Where Lost Things Go.” Reflective questions will follow the song.
Are there any “lost things” that you are missing right now? Would you like to share any of them with us?
Do any specific words from the song catch your attention today?
What helps you grieve your losses?
I welcome your responses to this reflection below: