Mr. Roger's - An Enduring Legacy
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
~ Matthew 22:36-40
I hope you’re enjoying the summer months, outside in the sunshine at the pool and parks, or maybe taking in a good movie. Our family recently watched the documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” examining the life and legend of Fred Rogers, the star of PBS’ “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.”
Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister who used his television show to preach and teach his Christian message that each and every child is valued and uniquely gifted. He believed that there was a sacred space between the child and what was appearing on their TV screen. He invited children to be his neighbor; to love them, to protect them, to speak with them honestly about feelings of being sad, mad or unworthy; emotions that we all can sometimes feel. Mr. Rogers would use his skills with music and puppets to reach out to children as no one could. In a particular episode, one of his puppets (he did the voices for his puppets) sings of feeling unworthy - this is overheard and responded to by one of the cast members singing back that ‘I care, you matter, I’m here for you’ in a beautiful melody. The final verse (Mr. Rogers wrote all the music for the show) is a duet between the two characters, one still unsure, the other reassuring; the magic in that moment: I trust you enough to share my most vulnerable feelings and to be embraced with authenticity in return.
Mr. Rogers’ favorite number sequence was ‘143’. It was not only his actual weight on the scale, which he would maintain throughout his long career (over 30 years - starting in Pittsburgh), it was also the sum for the letter-count in, ‘I love you’…1, 4, 3.
Mr. Rogers came into our living rooms or dens everyday (when I was growing up) asking “It’s beautiful day in the neighborhood… would you be mine, could you be mine? Won’t you, please, be my neighbor?” His wonderful biblical message still resonates far beyond the land of….make-believe.