“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is
to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are
just as important as our answers.”
― Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember
A Word of Hope
I just watched, for the second time, Won’t You be my Neighbor? It’s the biography of Fred Rogers and is a movie worthy of multiple viewings in our turbulent world. Check it out!
I was in my late ‘20’s when I met Fred Rogers at a Puppeteer Convention. He got into a conversation with me about my animation work on Sesame Street and asked me why an animator was at a puppeteer convention. I told him I loved both puppets and animation. He told me, “You know, actually I’m more of a storyteller than a puppeteer. I precociously replied, “I know. I’ve seen your work.” I then saw Mr. Rogers explode into a belly laugh the likes of which we would never see on his gentle PBS show.
I was honored to talk with him several times throughout that week, especially after he learned about our mutual interest in theology; it turned out very progressive theology. He opened the door for me on a world of interpretations I never knew existed. I was enthralled with the wisdom of the man as well as his generosity in spending time talking to an anonymous kid like me!
We see a lot of quotes from Fred Rogers these days as memes in the social media and I am so glad of that. Wisdom the likes of his never dies and every time I read one, I think, “My friend said that.” Millions of others of us who grew up with him think the same thing. He was everybody’s friend. Often, after any disaster, natural or otherwise, we will see this quote from our friend:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Every time I am horrified by a news report about what we are capable of doing to each other, that’s what I’ve been doing; looking for the helpers, and it fills my heart with joy to see that there are millions more of them than the same list of haters attempting to spread their usual venom. They can’t begin to realize that Jesus already has given us the antidote to their toxic actions and Fred Rogers is still our helper, interpreting Christ for yet another generation.
One more thought from Mr. Rogers, in the form of a prayer:
Help us to remember: “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare