Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is a family favorite. The children and I watch, all wishing that Mom were more cheery and magical, with a mysterious carpetbag and silly songs that ‘make the medicine go down’. One time I found Sis banging on the wall in the hallway and attempting to snap her fingers. “What are you doing?” I asked. Without flinching she told me she was Mary Poppins, using her powers of persuasion and imagination to pick up her mess. One afternoon, as Mary was riding into London on a cumulous chariot, Mister turned to me with wide eyes. “Mary Poppins lives in a whole bunch of clouds. That’s crazy! What does she put her foot on?” The wise little sage was at it again.

I recently read that Matisse, when painting in the natural world, would draw a circle on the ground around the place where he was standing. This way he was able to return to the exact spot to finish the painting. He understood the power and necessity of a fixed point. This fixed point afforded Matisse the opportunity to notice, with exactness, changes in the landscape.

Abraham Lincoln said to “Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” Like Matisse, President Lincoln understood the importance of finding solid ground to stand on and return to in turbulent times. And I think of the spiritual life, rooted in the physical one, and ask for a place to stand. A place I can return to each day in the discipline of prayer and bible study. A fixed vantage point where I can get my bearing and observe, with accuracy, the changes in the world around me. So that I am not confused. Or overwhelmed. So that I can paint something beautiful with a strong and steady hand.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:3

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