Jim Martin posted a fine reflection on facebook about the schmaltzy “Footprints” poem that has attracted so many. He writes:
The poem is (or poems are) frequently targeted in some more “sophisticated” spiritual circles for some good-natured, and not so good-natured, ribbing. It’s not Shakespeare or Dante of course, and perhaps the sheer ubiquity of the poem (on cards, posters, mugs, etc.) may have deadened some of its appeal. A darker motive for making light of the poem, though, is that it is popular, and surely, some more “advanced” thinkers believe, its popularity must mean that it is somehow not worthy of “serious” attention, or that it has little to teach us.
This is a common fallacy in some sophisticated spiritual circles. Such thinking makes the fatal mistake of forgetting that the Holy Spirit can be powerfully at work through a popular work of art. Indeed, its popularity can be put forth as an argument for its significance: Why else would it touch so many people respond to it? The Holy Spirit speaks through both “high” and “low” theology, and, besides, why do we need to make such distinctions at all? I’ll bet that the Beatitudes didn’t sound all that sophisticated either.
Agreed. Just because something is kinda schmaltzy doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad or even unsophisticated. Some can draw deep meaning in the simplest of things. My pastor, Fr Jack Ledwon often reads the Eucharistic Prayer for Children–because, as he says, “Sometimes the most profound things can only be captured in the simplest of ways.”
It calls to mind one of the favorite homilies I heard about awhile back. My buddy Fr. Jack Collins told me about it. He said “A priest gave this homily where he took out an old looking teddy bear. He said, ‘I’ve had this guy since I was a child. He’s old and half the stuffing is out of him and he’s missing an eye, but I still love him anyway. He’s my favorite, even though I’ve got a lot of new stuffed animals.”
“God loves us just like that. I’m old and worn out and I don’t see too well either. But God still loves me just as much as he always has.”
I could just feel my eyes welling up. It was a beautiful sentiment but also gave us much to consider.
How well do we love those closest to us? As we age and our relationships, especially those of us who are married, age–are we still able to love the same? Do we really take that commitment to love forever seriously?
Because God has made that same commitment to us.
So who is the old teddy bear in our lives? Find them today and hug the stuffing out of them, because God has been doing that with us for as long as we have been alive.