As a confirmed Mary Poppins’ fan, I could not wait to see the movie Saving Mr. Banks. However, it was not the lighthearted feel good movie I had expected. Rather, it was deeper and darker and quite thought provoking. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It gave me a different perspective of the movie that I had come to love as a child, and as a grownup watching with my own children. Mary Poppins didn’t come to save the children, she came to save their father. I …never… saw…. that. I missed it completely.
Saving Mr. Banks has the quite obvious theme of the incredible importance of a father in a child’s life. I don’t have to be sold on that one. I do know about that one…first hand. However, the story spoke to me in a more subtle way. It was the ever present reminder that behind every smiling face, whether they be successful or not, is a story….a broken story. It helps so much for me to realize this before forming opinions or judgements about who a person is or why they act a certain way. I must confess, at times, I am rather quick to do this and I need to be reminded of this again and again…….and again. Knowing about P.L. Travers’ childhood helps me to understand and forgive the woman she has become. Isn’t that a truth that we could apply to many we meet?
One would assume the creative magic of Disney that the world has come to know and love grew from the heart of a happy little boy, but quite the opposite was true. It was Walt’s way of writing a happy ending for his own harsh childhood and creating “the happiest place on earth”. He said in the movie: “That’s what story tellers do. We restore order to imagination. We bring hope.” And Mrs. Travers had a father who was always falling short of being the man she hoped he would be, but in the end, with her story, she forgave him and saved him. These two had similarly broken beginnings but out of the ashes of their tragic childhoods, there was restoration and the phoenix of hope.
We all have versions of a Mr. Banks in our own stories, but what we do with it is what matters most. Do we let it get the best of us and live with bitterness and regret, or do we find it in our hearts to somehow live our lives with forgiveness and “restore order and hope”. We can learn so much from this example, an application for saving our own Mr. Banks and also the grace we may extend to others as they attempt to save theirs. Just like I missed “it” in Mary Poppins, I am sure that I miss it when I look around. I know that I am a novice in the art of forgiveness, but others are masters. We humans are on a grand journey together and we must help each other with what we learn and not try to go it alone.
I think that this story is a metaphor for our journey and what our God wants us to find. He wants us to realize our brokenness and the need to forgive others as He has forgiven us. Through this forgiveness we find hope. He gives us examples everywhere. They are all around us…..even in a Hollywood movie. I know that I haven’t taken enough time to stop and listen and ponder what is behind someone’s smile. I also know that behind my own smile is going to involve some work on forgiveness. I am going to be intentional now. Thank you Walt Disney and Mrs. Travers, “well begun is half way done”.