My wife and I saw Eliza Doolittle perform her hit song “Pack Up” twice during our TV viewing over the Christmas break. We enjoyed its cool swing and bright lyrics with attitude…very catchy! The promotional video, below, is set in Jamaica.
The lyrics of “Pack Up” are slap-bang up to date for this Google and Twitter era. The search engine and the social media site’s missives both get a namecheck. Her listeners will, no doubt, instantly identify with these digital references.
As we watched Doolittle and her friend LLoyd vocalise these lyrics, I wondered how many of the listeners grooving along to them are equally familiar with the song from which the title and chorus are derived, Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag? More pertinently, how many have any inkling about the tragic World War context of the original song’s (over-) optimistic lyrics?
In a piece called Smile, even though you’re…going to war! this blog touched on these issues, and on the diverse spiritual journeys of the writers, the Powell brothers. One of them, Felix, never quite found his peace about having penned music for a rosy song that was on the lips of soldiers being sent to the deadliest of trenches. His brother George reacted by becoming a pacifist and then later on he became a Christian Scientist.
In a BBC interview, Eliza Doolittle answered the question “If you could pack up one trouble into your kit bag and get rid of it forever – what would it be?” She said “I’m always worried about my friends and family being unhealthy. So I’d take all the illnesses in the world, put them in the bag and chuck them away.”
The Christian Science that George Powell came to love cannot promise to take all the world’s illnesses and “bury them beneath the sea” – to quote the lyrics of “Pack Up”. It does, however, offer a viable alternative – a spiritual approach – to healing which offers hope even in cases when other methods of treating disease cannot cope. Weekly and monthly magazines and web sites regularly share accounts of healing that illustrate how the practice of Christian Science takes thought beyond hope and faith to the spiritual understanding that can bring about practical solutions.
When the rosy optimism of a kit-bag-packing approach to facing tough challenges doesn’t quite work – whether it is a kit bag of World War 1 vintage or a digital era kit bag – many people have found that God remains to take our troubles and turn them around through coming into the consciousness of His ceaseless love and living out that love in our lives.