It rained a lot this past week so our family stayed inside a bit and watched some movies we'd borrowed from a friend. One of those movies was Mary Poppins. I haven't watched that Disney classic in a long time. While we watched, I was struck by the song, "A Man Has Dreams."
The song is a musical conversation about fatherhood between George Banks (played by David Tomlinson) and Bert the chimney sweep (played by Dick Van Dyke). Throughout the movie, Banks focus on having a disciplined, well-ordered home has been juxtaposed by the nanny Mary Poppins' magic and whimsy. But at this moment, George Banks has crashed. He's hit the bottom. He's lost his job and feels he has nothing left:
A man has dreams of walking with giants; To carve his niche in the edifice of time. Before the mortar of his zeal has a chance to congeal, the cup is dashed from his lips; the flame is snuffed aborning. He's brought to rack and ruin in his prime.
So Banks blames Poppins. She tricked him into taking the children on an outing to his work. They acted out, and he lost his job. It's her fault! Bert the chimney sweep's response is fantastic. He brings Banks right to the end of his logic.
Bert: Tricked you into taking the children on an outing?
George Banks: Yes!
Bert: Outrageous! A man with all the important things you have to do. Shameful! You're a man of 'igh position, esteemed by your peers, and when your little tykes are cryin' you 'aven't time to dry their tears. And see them grateful little faces smilin' up at you because their dad, 'e always knows just what to do.
George Banks: (speaking) Well I mean look I, I don't think I...
Bert: Like you say, guv'nor. You've got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone though child'ood slips like sand through a sieve. And all too soon they've up and grown and then they've flown and it's too late for you to give...
That song is really quite an indictment. It's an indictment of me and every other competent father who is tempted to find his identity in success at work or earning rather than receiving the simple gifts God has given him. I'm tempted to make my own dreams more important than God's plans. I'd rather give my kids my high expectations--a well-ordered, disciplined home--than give them the simple gift of my presence and unconditional love. A man has dreams. The Bible says simply, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12).
Father, help me to turn away from worldly successes and things that seem so right in my eyes. Help me to see that life is found in you and the simple gifts you give-- time with family watching a movie, the smiles of my daughters, and the opportunity to be present and wipe a tear. Amen.