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A Song for Lent – Day 13 – Envy: Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

 To Read: Click on song title to watch a video 

Part Of Your World

from The Little Mermaid on Broadway

Look at this stuff Isn’t it neat?
Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?
Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl; the girl who has ev’rything?
Look at this trove, Treasures untold
How many wonders can one cavern hold?
Lookin’ around here you’d think (Sure) she’s got everything

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore
(You want thingamabobs? I got twenty)

But who cares? No big deal. I want more

I want to be where the people are
I want to see want to see ’em dancin’
Walkin’ around on those (Whad’ya call ’em?) oh – feet

Flippin’ your fins you don’t get too far
Legs are required for jumpin’, dancin’
Strollin’ along down a (What’s that word again?) street

Up where they walk, up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun.
Wanderin’ free, wish I could be, part of that world

What would I give If I could live outta these waters?
What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand?
Betcha on land they understand
Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters
Bright young women, sick o’ swimmin’, ready to stand

And ready to know what the people know
Ask ’em my questions, and get some answers
What’s a fire and why does it (What’s the word?) burn?

When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that shore above?
Out of the sea, wish I could be part of that world


From the Scriptures:

Little MermaidO Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvellous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.

Psalm 131

To Reflect: (Envy)

The reflections this week are about some of the classic ‘deadly sins’ of the faith. How we can fall into them and ways to avoid them. 

In Disneyworld there must, as in the magical Kingdom of Camelot, always be a happy ending. So with the exception of Bambi and its latter African incarnation The Lion King, only the wicked die and even then it happens sotto voce and, preferably, off-screen.

In Hans Christian Andersen’s telling of the story The Little Mermaid does not live happily ever after with her Prince but how she deals with her unrequited love brings her to a home in heaven. [1] This is a different kind of ‘happy ending’ and proves that even when ensnared in the grip of the deadly sin of envy…

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty,

I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore

(You want thingamabobs? I got twenty)

But who cares? No big deal. I want more

…redemption may still be found.

Personally I think Hans Christian Andersen got the story right and I suspect the people of Copenhagen agree.mermaid statue

Envy, along with the avarice we looked at yesterday, are the most useless of the seven deadly sins. Avarice is having so much stuff (remember, the best things in life aren’t things?) that we can’t use it. Envy is wanting stuff we can’t have, or stuff which if we do have it (as the Little Mermaid discovers) it we find it is not good for us or for others.

Giving in to Envy is an absolute waste of time, which is what makes it so ‘deadly’ as a sin. Experience suggests that it is also a ‘gateway’ sin. Those who are successful at Envy often move on to Greed and Avarice or both. So how can it be best fought?

The Psalmist points the way suggesting that the antidote for Envy is to nurse gently in the arms of The One Who Loves Us Best, finding contentment in God’s perfect provision. This, however is easy advice to give!

What if you are in employment that is soul destroying and unfulfilling?
What if you can only find employment that goes against your beliefs?
What if you are not in employment at all?

Seeking Contentment over Envy can easily be a counsel of perfection by the better off to the less fortunate and become an ecclesiastical version of ‘Let them eat cake’.

Just as defeating Avarice is spearheaded by the work of philanthropists so resisting Envy can be best illustrated by those who have much giving up the goods of this world in favour of trusting in the good-ness of God.

For me this is a place where the franciscan call shines brightly as each of us is called to be betrothed to Lady Poverty and, in our emptiness and insufficiency, find ourselves filled to overflowing with the generosity of a loving God who asks only that we ask for bread for today and not tomorrow as well.


To Pray: 

O God, I don’t find much contentment in my job.
It is so difficult to believe that this is your will for my life.
Grant me the courage and the strength
to do the hard things today
and to do them well.
I am going to face things that I can’t handle by myself.
I know the promises concerning your presence,
but help me to feel something of that presence
in the difficult hours of this day.

Leslie F Brandt, United States of America


To Do:

  • Go deeper in your Lenten discipline and denial. What can you give up (and if appropriate give to a needy other) not just for 40 days but for the rest of your life

Encore: Click on song title to watch a video

Under the Sea is the moment when Ariel’s friends try to persuade her against escaping to the world of feet and streets and dancing. Sometimes staying in your church ‘home room’ even if it is irksome or irritating is medicine for the heart. We should always remember to be thankful, no matter how different is to where we are now, for the place from which you came. That was your first step on the journey home.


Prayers are from ‘Prayers Encircling the World’ and are copyright © SPCK: 1998.
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘A Song for Lent – 40 Days in the West End’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2018

[1] A synopsis of the story of The Little Mermaid can be read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Mermaid

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