Let Go, and, Yes, This Year, Let God

Now we all have our sad tales, but don’t you want to finish the story? Let it all go and have a life that isn’t dictated by the past?

Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) earnestly sharing his early life story with P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson).

If you have not seen “Saving Mr. Banks”, I highly recommend it. It’s an account of Walt Disney’s herculean (and very personal) efforts to convince author P.L. Travers to give him the rights to make a motion picture about her character, Mary Poppins. The quote above is from a pivotal scene near the end of the film. You have to see the entire film, and particularly, this scene, to understand its importance, especially as you and I begin another year. I will simply say Walt Disney and his family had a trying and painful life in Kansas City. He and his brother are fortunate to have physically and emotionally survived. I suppose Walt Disney produced “happy” stories to compensate for his difficult past in Chicago, onto Marceline, Missouri, and then to Kansas City.

How to have a life not dictated by the past…no one has had a perfect road, and whatever has happened in our past definitely dictates our approach to the present, but how to face an uncertain future.

A young friend, a very wonderful, caring, alive individual suffered a severe loss this past year with her father’s untimely passing. She is learning, “on the job”, that she must be the “adult” in the family at times in the future. Her faith remains strong, but I am certain there are the moments when she is alone in her thoughts and asks “Why, God? Why is he gone? What am I to do?”

We talked, briefly, about this, a few weeks back, and I could tell by her demeanor those answers are yet to present themselves. My response has been, “Your strength comes from knowing the Lord is watching over you and guiding you in ways you may not recognize, but in His good time, you will.” She looked at me for a moment, then appeared to understand my meaning.

We all have our “sad tales” but as Disney pleaded with P.L. Travers, we need to “finish the story.” We must take our individual burdens, sorrows, and questions and leave them in the Lord’s hands. As humans, we aim to “fix” things, though, moving through life, we know the “answers” inevitably lead to more questions. With God’s grace, we have people around us to point us in the correct direction. As Catholics, we have the Holy Family. Talk about “unknowns” and “sorrows” and absorbing messages from the angels about the direction they must take to fulfill the ancient prophecy.

Our lesson from the example of the Holy Family, and their responsibility to protect and raise the new creation is always challenging, but it is remarkably direct: Lord, I cannot change the past. I can’t erase all my doubts. All I can do is to leave it in Your grace to show me the way to a fulfilling and giving life.

Happy New Year.

Michael Throop