I have always loved the story of Peter Pan. The Disney movie, sure—it’s one of my favorites. But ever since I spent a semester in London and learned the story behind the story, I’ve loved J.M. Barrie’s play-turned-novel even more.
In Kensington Gardens, there stands a statue of Peter Pan, supposedly erected by the childless Barrie himself overnight in order to surprise the children to whom he had long told stories of pirates and fairies and babies who could fly and never grow up. One of those children on whom Barrie doted, the baby of the family, was named Peter. As the history (legend?) goes, another child whom Barrie entertained referred to him as her “friendy,” but, as children are wont to do, had trouble pronouncing the letter R; thus “fwendy”—and eventually the name “Wendy,” which Barrie may or may not have invented—was born. And yet another detail of the story behind the story says that the child who never grew up was based on Barrie’s own older brother, who died at age 14 and thus remained a child forever. Or so the legends go. But legend or history, the context for Barrie’s fanciful tale of the Lost Boys and their adventures, of the boy-who-would-always-be and his flying lessons for children who wouldn’t, only adds to the delight I have taken in revisiting this story again and again.
Even before I joined the staff here, I joked with All Saints’s own dear Cindy Broderius that she is the Wendy to our staff’s Lost Boys. Keeping them in order, tending to their needs, helping them stay grounded when all they want to do is fly, being the grownup they need, just like the original Wendy. When, about a year ago, Cindy asked me to fill in for her for a few days while she was out of town, I laughed and said that if her invitation was a Tinkerbell solicitation, there was no way I was donning the requisite tutu. Now that I’ve joined the staff on a permanent basis, of course, I’m Tink (tutu or no), at least to Cindy. (And no, in case you’re wondering, we haven’t ever identified a Captain Hook.)
And of course, over our time together here on the staff, surrounded by the Lost Boys as we are, Cindy has indeed become my dear “f’wendy”. As Peter himself suggested, to love is, in fact, “an awfully big adventure,” and what a delight it has been to be on this adventure with my own Wendy. But Barrie’s Wendy couldn’t stay in Neverland. She had to go home, to grow up and become a mother, leaving the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell behind to do their Neverland thing without someone to sew on their buttons and shadows and whatever else they might lose.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, our All Saints Neverland is losing its dear Wendy, too. If you find one of our own Lost Boys looking like he needs mending or you hear that our Tinkerbell has stirred up more trouble than she ought to have, you’ll know why. After all, as Peter Pan told Wendy, “one girl is more use than twenty boys.” You will be missed more than you can know, our dear Wendy, and we are all so grateful that you will still be part of our All Saints family, even if you do have to leave Neverland. “Never say goodbye,” said Peter Pan, “because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” No, my farewell to you from Neverland is something more akin to “second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning” as I delight with you in your next big adventure. And I am so eager to see what this next flight has in store for you. “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust,” and I pray for an abundance of all three for you.