‘Trip a little light fantastic’

Over the holiday break, several in our family went to see the new movie, “Mary Poppins Returns.” Let it be known that we are Mary Poppins loyalists and that as we pulled up to the cinema, we exclaimed, “What are we even doing here?! We pledge our undying fealty to you Julie Andrews!” But, as you can already discern, we are suckers for song and dance, and we left floating into the air and exclaiming over the ways that Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the lead actors, had stayed true while making this new story their own.

In a wonderful intergenerational moment after the movie, one of the youngers amongst us asked, “What exactly was that lyric in the big dance number?” And one of our elders explained that the key phrase was “trip a little light fantastic,” which was slang from the early 1900s meaning to dance fancifully. I adore it. (Please say it out loud. Now.)

Here’s a quote from the lyric: “So when life is getting scary, be your own illuminary who can shine the light for all the world to see, as you trip a little light fantastic with me!”

Without getting too heavy on a light-hearted phrase (ha ha), one of the best things about working at Goshen College is the way our students trip a little light fantastic. There is nothing more fun than seeing the many ways that young people are their own illuminaries. But it’s not just the students. A few weeks ago, I had Friday tea time with the faculty on Wyse Third (some of our humanities faculty) in a regular ritual of serious conversation laced with tea and humor. On one wall of their conference room was a white board crammed full with academic planning, and on the opposite wall were taped a wide variety of favorite cartoons. Our faculty trip a little light fantastic too.

I’ll let another lyric sum it up: “So when troubles are incessant, simply be more incandescent for your light comes with a lifetime guarantee.”

Rebecca Stoltzfus