I have no real profound thoughts today, as I sit in my office in sweats and baseball cap and wonder what road I may ultimately end up walking professionally. I’m still in this amazingly, frighteningly, wonderfully, awkward time of transition – and I have experienced a gamut of emotions along the journey thus far. There’s that uplifting rush that comes from imagining a world of possibilities. And there’s the dread that comes from imagining hopes dashed. And in the middle, there’s this amazing thing called everyday life. There’s marriage, and family, and friendships, and prayer. There’s laughter and music and reading and cooking. There’s freelance jobs and the joy of writing and the launch of a company and the “oh, can I really do this?” followed by the “take a risk.” And there is Mr Rogers.
Yes, there’s Fred Rogers. You know the man. “Mr Roger’s Neighborhood,” with Trolley and Ex the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat and Speedy Delivery. Long after I was too old to watch the show, I still tuned in. Because, in our crazy world, he was a voice of kindness. Both on and off the screen, he was a minister. And this morning, his wisdom is just what the doctor ordered. Don’t worry – it’s not what you think. Hope the musings of Mr. Rogers inspire you today too.
“If we’re really honest with ourselves, there are probably times when we think, ‘What possible use can I be in this world? What need is there for somebody like me to fill?’ That’s one of the deeper mysteries. Then God’s grace comes to us in the form of another person who tells us we have been of help, and what a blessing that is.”
“There’s a part of all of us that longs to know that even what’s weakest about us is still redeemable and can ultimately count for something good.”
“One of my seminary professors, Dr Orr, often talked with great poignancy about Henry, a student who had come to the seminary with a degree in classic literature and a fine working knowledge of Greek and Latin as well as several modern languages. He remembered this young man as being brilliant and yet always receiving with such grace the offers of others. ‘He never put on airs,’ Dr. Orr said. ‘You always felt he really respected everybody else.’ It seems that this young man wa a perfectionist. For him every word had to be just so. It was excruciating for him to give a sermon unless he felt it was letter-perfect; consequently, it took him two months to write one sermon. Even though he tried hard, it became clear to him that he was not going to be suited for the parish ministry. Eventually, he dropped out of seminary and took a job at a local department store. Dr. Orr didn’t hear from him for a long time, so one day, he stopped in the store to see how Henry was faring. It happened to be Henry’s day off, but his coworkers talked with Dr. Orr about him. The more they talked, the more Dr. Orr realized that the people at the store knew nothing about this fellow employee’s extensive education. What they did know was what had happened in their department after his arrival. ‘The department was filled with all kinds of jealousy and pettiness. It was a miserable place to work before Henry came,’ a person told Dr. Orr. ‘But after he had been here awhile, somehow all of that miserable stuff seemed to disappear. We all got working together, and well, it’s different with him here. He’s like a minister in more ways than anyone knows. You say you know Henry? Well, you are blessed, too, then.’ Dr. Orr finally contacted Henry, and the two of them read Greek literature together for ten years before Henry died. When Dr. Orr talked about him, he would invariably say, ‘To think there were people at the seminary – and elsewhere – who called it a waste for Henry to have done what he did, working at that department store.’ Then Dr. Orr would add, ‘Henry probably had one of the greatest ministries I know. I feel privileged to have been his friend.'”
“’The outside is never as much as the inside…’ As you may know by now, that’s one of the major themes of our work: The invisible essential. Oh, the outsides of life are important, but the insides are what enhance so much of the rest.
“I am glad that I’ve been able to do what I’ve done and not been sidetracked along the way. A teacher of mine calls it guided drift. Isn’t that wonderful? You’re drifting, and yet you’ve got a rudder.”
“I saw a friend who’s a freelance writer and asked him what he was working on. ‘Nothing right now,’ he answered. ‘You know how it is for freelancers. But at times like this I tell myself I’m “between opportunities.” That way I don’t have to feel I’m nowhere.’ There’s often a tendency for us to hurry through transitions. We may feel that these transitions are ‘nowhere at all’ compared to what’s gone on before or what we anticipate is next to come. But you are somewhere…you’re ‘between.’”
“A friend of mine was in a taxi in Washington, D.C., going slowly past the National Archives, when he noticed the words on the cornerstone of the building: ‘The past is prologue.’ He read them out loud to the taxi driver and said, ‘What do you think that means, “the past is prologue”?’ The taxi driver said, ‘I think it means, Man, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!’”
Thanks Mr. Rogers.