A Spoonful of Sugar

I left a party tonight without saying goodbye, at the time I felt liberated, like no one would care anyway, that it was perfectly fine for me to have bad manners, and now I feel rotten. So, officially, thank you L and M for a lovely party, and I’ll see you again soon.

At the party tonight I was uncomfortable, like I had my skirt tucked in the back of my nylons and didn’t know just what the problem was, only that there was one. My lipstick felt caked, My shirt felt too short, I had all the problems. But I went and spoke with people and laughed with people, and then I left and picked up my children and now here I am, with the literal roar of a furnace that maybe is too big for a small house or something, and Mary Poppins and cats and all of my people dreaming of sugar plum fairies.

Tonight I said hello to someone, and she wasn’t sure I was greeting her.

I had to stop here and twist my wedding rings a little, contemplate the greater good against telling the truth.

I decided on the truth, I hope you’ll love my anyway.

I don’t think this person I said hello to likes me very much, this person always seems surprised when I say hello, when I hold a door, when I move to assist. I’m not sure why, as I like this person very much indeed, and think she would have many valuable things to tell me should we ever have the chance to sit and chat. Its hard to feel that you aren’t liked, when you feel yourself to be a fully likable person.

We came home and went through the ballet that is putting children to bed, careful and deliberate movements intended only to make people relax their small personages and go to sleep. And we watched Mary Poppins, this lovely story where a woman comes into this home that was all nice and orderly and perfect, and she stirs things up.

Except it wasn’t all nice and orderly. You’ve got these terrible children who keep sending nannies running, and this wife who is fighting for the right of women to vote, there are real people in the story who are living out their own stories in one fashion or another and Mary just sort of drops from the sky.

Marys have a way of doing that, just being normal women suddenly turned magical. I would like to be a Mary.

That other famous Mary is heavy with child now, still journeying to Bethlehem, with her husband probably still wondering what in the world he has gotten himself into.

I want to be a Mary because Marys come into a situation and they upend it. Marys come into a place and they rearrange it with camel back sofas and soft lighting, and they welcome everyone who comes in, chimney sweeps and small children who shout into microphones, self righteous bankers and indignant Pharisees.

I watched the scene where all the chimney sweeps drop down through the chimney and into the house where Mary Poppins lived with new eyes tonight. They came in dancing and singing, they danced with the maids and soot flew, they stomped and kicked as they sang, and when it was time to go there was this silouhette army of sweeps dancing out the door and down the street, mission complete, leaving only some kind of holy ash in their wake.

What if we can bring joy when we call people to change?

What if we can welcome people in and at the same time sing a beautiful song that soothes the people who are already inside, the people insisting we don’t have room for those people who want so badly to come in out of the wilderness?

What if a spoonful of sugar really can make the medicine go down?

I want to be a Mary with a carpet bag of necessary items. Soon I will have a kit with a chalice and a patten (plate), a corporal (big piece of white linen) and a purificator (small piece of white linen). Soon I will go into places where people who are cut off from the body of Christ but still wish to receive will receive. I will bring them the body and the blood and I will have to bring them myself too.

No true Mary gets to keep herself, I don’t care what crazy book you read.

I think I learned tonight that being a Mary is enviable, but that maybe you can’t stay in one place very long. I think I learned that most people won’t see the edges of the magic you would bring them, only a faint sparkle that makes them suspicious.

A little sugar goes a long way, but it has to be genuine.

I want to be the Mary with soot on her nose, holding the hands of small children, upending systems that are unjust. I want to be the Mary who is bringing a team of dancing, singing foreign people through a drawing room.

And I want to stand on the stoop and watch as those people dance away.

Maybe a disturbance of deacons is disturbing in a way I hadn’t thought of before. Maybe when we say disturb we don’t mean damage, we don’t mean divide, we don’t mean disturb in the ways that we know that word.

Maybe a disturbance brings a temporary bit of light into a dark place, the flare of a match in the night, the echo of a perfect middle C (my favorite note) in a nave lit only by candlelight.

It is very easy to think about upending systems of injustice, and it is occurring to me that many times people aren’t aware that they are being unjust, they are just being themselves, and wonder what in the world I am on about.

Maybe a disturbance only takes a moment, but has an effect that lasts for a long while.

I’ll see you again, as I dance down the street, out of your formal drawing room, and into the mist, having wreaked the havoc needed.

Maybe you’ll see that magic when it happens. I hope that you do.

So often our Marys come, not in forms we think fitting, not in roles we get to cast. They come in people who are different, different, and no less needed.

Happy Advent, we’re almost there.




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