Our family had the opportunity last Saturday to watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks, who, by the way, did a fabulous job portraying Mr. Rogers. It would not surprise me if he won an Oscar. It helped me understand the heart behind the man so dearly loved by his young viewers.
Reflecting on my childhood, I can't believe my mother never introduced me to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. I'm sure he would have brought peace into my sometimes troubled heart. Instead, Garfield Goose filled our screen. Are you old enough to remember the program? You can watch an excerpt HERE.
In rewatching a few minutes of Garfield Goose, we are introduced to a few new ideas which concentrate primarily on information, with a bit of humor thrown in. Mr. Rogers, on the other hand, focuses on feelings. Sure, he exposes children to many new things as well, but all with concern for the young viewers heart. Many of the topics Fred brings up, are issues children deal with sometimes on a daily basis. Death, divorce, bullying, prejudice - the list could go on.
After watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, I understood what attracted me to this iconic figure, and why I would have cherished him as my mentor: compassion and patience. Two traits I lack in spades. Oh, not that I'm not compassionate when others are hurting. No. It shows up when I face those who have chosen a wrong path, have hurt others, or are generally un-loveable. But, according to Mr. Rogers, there are no unloveable people; only those who need to be heard, understood, and loved - just the way they are.
I admired his patience as he waited for a response in conversation. He felt no need to fill in the silence with platitudes or advice. His goal was to listen and accept each person in the journey they were taking, praying for many daily as he took an early swim.
That's why I'm thankful his legacy can continue on at the Fred Rogers Center where they pass on his misson as they help children grow as confident, competent, and caring human beings.
I wanted to know what made the man we know as Mr. Rogers? Biographies tell us he was a minister who loved God, his fellow man, Scripture and prayer. His Christianity shone through.
Here are a few quotes from Mr. Rogers that we all need today, compiled by Geoffrey James:
"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."
"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else."
"We speak with more than our mouths. We listen with more than our ears."
"You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are."
Enjoy getting to know Mr. Rogers more fully in this trailer of another film that debuted last year, more of a documentary with Fred himself as the star. . .
If you'd like to see episodes from years past, find them here on Mr. Rogers official website. They are precious black and white footage from days gone by. Why not watch a few with your friends and family this holiday season, and reminisce? And, if you want to get to know the puppets and their role in Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, check out this LINK.
A few days ago, I listened to Janet Parshall's In the Market podcast You Are Special where she hosted Amy Hollingsworth, one of the few journalists allowed to interview Mr. Rogers, due to a rebuttal she made to an article maligning this gentle man. For over a decade, they conversed, exchanged emails and shared thoughts about life and faith. Amy was the last one to receive a letter from the humble star young viewers loved. Listen to the In the Market podcast HERE.
What about you? Did Mr. Rogers play a part in your life, or that of your children? Share your thoughts below!
Does your middle-grader get bored over the holidays? Consider The Heart Changer, historical fiction that will keep your child engaged with action, suspense and yes - much heart and compassion. Fred would agree this world is hard, but we have hope and heart to carry us through.
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.