Lady and the Tramp and Endless Love

Lady and the Tramp and Endless Love April 7, 2022

Walt Disney Animation via “People.com”

In my old age, I consistently ask myself why Disneyland still hasn’t given us a ride for “Lady and the Tramp.” (If they can do it for “The Adventures of Mr. Toad,” they can do it for this one too!)

For a film that consistently features on Disney’s Diamond/Platinum/Whatever Precious Metal line of movies, this one sometimes slips under the radar. This is regrettable because the film captures a truth most precious: love is inexhaustible, and there is always room in our circle for more.

The threat that hangs in the air for all the major characters in the film is this idea that there is limited love to go around.  They fear that the ties that bind can be severed, that they can be dispensed to make way for something new.

Lady, for example, fears that the arrival of the new baby will cause her owners to ignore her or else kick her out of the house. Tramp seems to confirm her worst fears early on in the film: “When the baby moves in, the dog moves out.” But Tramp at this point is speaking only in half-truths. Lady doesn’t understand that the newfound tension her owners are experiencing have nothing to do with her: they’re just feeling the weight of stepping into this new role.

Lady’s fears are dispelled when she finally sees the new baby. How could Jim Dear and Darling love her any less when Lady seeing the child makes her own heart grows right before her eyes?

Walt Disney Animation via “Pediatric Safety”

But it’s not just that Tramp believes that he exceeds the maximum capacity, he doesn’t think that the family has room for someone like him. How could a rapscallion like him ever fit in with a family, a system that by definition binds him to a person or persons?

Turns out that not even the most free-spirited of us are so independent that we don’t benefit from the loving binds of family. Tramp ends up filling a place in Lady’s family, and fits along nicely with the rest of the clan at the end. It’s not just that there’s room for a high number of people, but family has room for all makes of people.

The familial unit in this film can translate just as easily to our congregations. Society has a clear picture of who “belongs” in the church each Sunday, and these arbitrary qualifications have kept many who don’t fit a certain portrait of “churchiness” from feeling the love of a congregation, and with it the love of God. Perhaps some of us can remember feeling the love of God through someone who didn’t look “churchy.” And maybe we can in turn make sure they still feel like they have a place in our families, however we define it.

Walt Disney Animation via “IMDb”

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