A spoonful of sugar: Making the bitter medicine of life better


Last week, the Seymour High School Varsity Chorale performed its yearly musical, “Mary Poppins.”

It was amazing to be in a theater with other people enjoying a live performance. Honestly, I probably would have enjoyed a novice oboe player squeaking their way through scales just for the small joy of a live concert experience.

The musical fare, however, was anything but basic. It was exceptional. Granted, I may be a little bit biased as my lovely daughter played the role of Jane Banks, but my family will tell you that being blood does not protect one from critical review when it comes to music in the Myers household.

While no performance is without its hiccups, the musicians of Seymour High School, both on the stage and in the orchestra pit, consistently powered through any issues with poise and a level of professionalism beyond their age and experience.

Kyle Karum, Kevin Cottrill and Karla Shutters have done an exceptional job of creating a culture of musical excellence at SHS, and their efforts paid major dividends. I could write pages extolling the quality performances of the musicians in the orchestra pit, the stage and sound crew and the entirety of the cast.

With such a talented group of vocalists, I’m sure it was unspeakably difficult deciding who would fill what role, but everyone who was entrusted with a role handled it with skill and grace.

Two of my favorite characters were actually supporting roles. I can still see Neleus, a statue in the park, pirouetting across the stage, and I can hear the park ranger bellowing, “What’s this? What’s this?” in a thick British accent. It was an amazing show.

Not only did I truly and thoroughly enjoy each performance — I attended three — I also found each to be inspiring and insightful. The song that struck me is one of the most popular, “A Spoonful of Sugar.”

Interestingly enough, it didn’t strike me as Mary Poppins sang it with the Banks children, but when Bert sang a portion of it to Mr. Banks. Mr. Banks laments the bitterness of broken dreams and the difficulties of life.

Bert, as he often does, spins things around and reminds him of the words of Mary Poppins. He sings, “A spoonful of sugar that is all it takes. It turns bread and water into tea and cakes.”

Mr. Banks protests, but Bert carries on, adding the Banks children to the equation. He notes, “You’ve got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone, though childhood slips like sand through a sieve. And all too soon they’ve up and grown and then they’ve flown. And then it’s too late for you to give just that spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.”

The message presented is that while one cannot always prevent the difficulties that invade one’s life and the lives of those around them, they can inject a little bit of kindness to help make the bitter medicine of life more palatable.

The world doesn’t need any help making life difficult. People will taste more than enough bitterness without us adding more to the mix. Perhaps that is the point Mary Poppins is trying to teach the Banks family and the point that Bert so succinctly communicates to Mr. Banks.

A little bit of compassion, even the smallest of kindnesses, can make the sour medicine of daily struggles and difficulties more bearable and just maybe enjoyable. The Bible seems to agree. Proverbs 16:24 reads, “Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Not only was I impressed and awed by the talents of the students of SHS choirs and band, I was very encouraged. Their presentation of Mary Poppins was “a spoonful of sugar” for me personally and for many in our community.

I also take it as a welcome reminder that our efforts can make a difference. If only for a moment, we can make the bitterness of life better for others. Our actions, attitudes and interactions can serve as a much-needed spoonful of sugar.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected].

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