The Wisdom of Mary Poppins
When it comes to iconic Disney characters, particularly from the live-action films, it’s hard to top Mary Poppins. Sadly, she’s not represented much in the parks. In fact, I can only think of 3 places:
- In meet-and-greets & parades (like the Mickey’s Soundsational Parade pictured above);
- The new Jolly Holiday Bakery is themed to Mary Poppins; and
- The lead horse on King Arthur’s Carousel, named Jingles, is dedicated to Julie Andrews—the actress who played Mary Poppins in the movie—and has a couple of symbols related to Mary Poppins.
Still, this is enough to give us the opportunity to think about the wisdom of Mary Poppins. Now, even though she’s “practically perfect in every way”, she’s not a “Proverbs 31 woman” by any means. But there are some great reminders in her movie.
I Love to Laugh
“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
In the scene with Uncle Albert, laughter is literally “uplifting”. They sing about the different ways people laugh, and they laugh themselves. Uncle Albert and Bert, in particular get…carried away by the laughter. And when they get sad, it brings them down. When my parents were at Disneyland with my wife and me for their 40th anniversary, Mary Poppins and Bert had an extended conversation with them about different laughs. One of my favorite memories of that trip!
We’ve all felt that way, haven’t we? Laughter lightens our mood and our spirit. Cheerfulness expresses itself in smiles and laughter.
Medical science has proven again and again the health benefits of laughter. And this scene in Mary Poppins gives a visual illustration to what the Bible says.
A Spoonful of Sugar
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20)
When the Banks children didn’t want to clean their room, Mary Poppins sang a song to them about making drudgery fun, and making work a game. It comes down to a choice of attitude.
This verse is one of several that reminds us of that very truth. Not everything in life will be fun and pleasant. In fact, sometimes life will be very difficult. But we still choose to “sing and make music in [our] heart to the Lord…”. Notice Paul doesn’t say to do that if you feel like it, or if things are going well. It’s a choice.
A Jolly Holiday
“He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm.
Have you ever noticed that some people are just pleasant to be around? They’re not necessarily “the life of the party”, but they don’t have to be. When you’re around them, you’re a better person. Of course, some are the opposite—some people seem like they can bring you down just being in the same room. They are always pessimistic, or mean, or irritable, and when you’re around them, you find these characteristics coming out in yourself, too.
Mary Poppins is the former. Bert and others liked to be around her. “Oh, it’s a jolly holiday with Mary / Mary makes your ‘eart so light / When the day is gray and ordinary / Mary makes the sun shine bright!”
We have a responsibility to choose who we will associate with. Will it be people like Mary Poppins—people that lift you up and inspire you—people like the ones this Proverb refers to? The Apostle Paul warned, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” It matters.
Question: I’m sure there are more connections—and maybe probably even better ones than I’ve made here—so I need your help. What lessons from Scripture do you see in Mary Poppins? Tell me in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.