Restoring Hope with Imagination

Southern Belle View Daily

“It’s what we storytellers do, restore hope with imagination.” —Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks.

The previews had just started when an older woman with a buzz cut pushed her way down the row.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!” she bellowed. It sounded less like an apology and more like a demand.

I glanced down the line of seats, wondering if she was meeting someone. But the man two seats over was sharing a jumbo bucket of popcorn with a person who looked like his girlfriend or wife.

The woman only had one option: the seat right next to me.

I turned my knees and she shoved past, collapsing into the chair. She stripped off her sweatshirt and looked over. Her teeth gleamed in the darkness. “You aren’t going to talk, are you? And no cell phones!”

The woman didn’t notice how ironic it was to yell this over the previews, but just settled in, unlacing her tennis shoes and crunching her toes before placing her stocking feet on the rungs in front of us.

The opening credits for Saving Mr. Banks began. I gratefully turned my eyes to the screen.

My brief synopsis:

After twenty years of nonstop cajoling, Walt Disney has finally convinced P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, to turn her children’s novel into a movie. While fighting with him over the screenplay, Travers has flashbacks of her childhood with a father who was equally consumed by his love for his family and by his love for alcohol.

Finally, through the power of story, Travers is able to come to terms with her past and find healing for her pain.

As Disney’s version of Mr. Banks walked away on the screen, I watched the woman next to me.

Her stocking feet were still on the rungs, and she was fist-wiping the tears streaming down her face.

She had remained so silent throughout the viewing that I had forgotten about her earlier, rather peculiar, behavior.

As someone who loves storytelling in every form, I wondered what thread of this narrative had entwined with her heartstrings.

Was her father an alcoholic? Did she, like P.L. Travers, have difficulty trusting–or liking–people?

I continued to covertly watch the woman, even as the screen continued to flash images of Emma Thompson (P.L. Travers) and Tom Hanks (Walt Disney).

I recalled Disney telling Travers, during his last attempt to obtain rights for the script, “It’s what we storytellers do, restore hope with imagination.”

Sometimes, as a writer, it’s easy to forget that my main goal is not to reach a specified daily word count but to restore hope through the written word.

And yet, listening and watching that strange stranger weep revived my own hope in the power of creativity, which was given to us by the greatest Creator of all time.

Whether we enjoy singing, dancing, writing, or painting, God has intended for each of us to carry out a calling and to restore hope through imagination, through the gifts He has given to us.

How are you going to share that gifting this week?


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Jolina Petersheim, bestselling author of The Midwife and The Outcast, and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live on a solar-powered farm in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin with their young daughters. Visit with Jolina at

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  1. Shellie says

    Oh, JO! I’m so moved by this post and your vivid description of that lady. I’ve said it for years and I mean it more every single time I say it, “The whole world stops for a story!” I love yours~

  2. says

    That lady was something else, Shellie! Randy and I were both bracing ourselves, thinking we’d have to move. Instead, God spoke to me through her. Love how He does that, working in mysterious ways. :)

  3. Julie says

    “The whole world stops for a story.” Yes, Shellie! And Jolina, I’m glad that lady found the seat next to yours. You didn’t know it then, but that’s how it was meant to be:) Hugs and KEEP WRITING! You do offer hope to so many.

  4. Lisa Wingatee says

    Bless you today, Jolina, those words speak to my heart. You are right that our jobs are to weave hope. It’s easy to get caught up in all the business aspects, and deadlines, and schedules and forget that.

    Every story is a chance to walk through the dark night of the soul without someone and reach that point of fist-wiping tears as hope shines in.

    Beautiful day on the porch!


    • says

      “Every story is a chance to walk through the dark night of the soul within someone and reach that point of fist-wiping tears as hope shines in.” I absolutely love that, Lisa; what a beautiful reminder. Thank you for that today–it is so easy to forget sometimes that this is more than a job; it is a calling!



  5. Rebekah Dorris says

    What I thought would be an entertaining read turned out to really speak to me. Thanks for sharing this wise insight and for people-watching in such a productive way:)

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