Last night, on New Year's Eve, I bought a ticket and went to see, "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood."
I have followed Fred Rogers for over twenty years. As a child, I was beyond the curve to really appreciate him. As an adult, I own "Life's Journeys According to Mister Rogers: Things to Remember Along the Way," "The World According to Mister Rogers," as well as a Mr. Rogers' T-Shirt and a coffee mug that turns his blue sport coat into a tan sweater when you pour in hot water.
When the Esquire magazine article came out in the late 90's, somebody had left a copy of it in my waiting room. I read it and kept the magazine for years. The article that the movie was based on was the cover story. This essay inspired me to follow this intelligent, gentle man.
The movie illustrated three qualities of Fred Rogers: Acceptance, Withholding Judgement, and Silence. In Acceptance, it is his ethos: "I like you just the way you are." He lived this. He saw people the way they were and loved them for who they were without expectations of their behavior, background, or race.
In withholding judgement, when we see Mr. Rogers being interviewed, and the man stormed out of the apartment, Mr. Rogers didn't react in anger; rather, he was accepting of this and was concerned about the hurt within the anger of the interviewer. There was no judgement expressed. Judgement is an ego state of discernment. You can't be accepting and judgemental at the same time.
Lastly, Mr. Rogers valued silence. He demonstrated it in the way his listened. He spoke very little and, when he did speak, he was brief in speaking about himself and turned the conversation back to the other person in the conversation.
But his close and active love of silence served a daily purpose. In prayer, he took one minute to think of those people that helped him get to the life that he'd achieved. In addition, it was in daily prayer that he'd whisper the names of people whom he prayed.
In the spirit of such an example of our most elevated spiritual selves I ask you, for your New Year's Day tradition, to take sixty seconds to think of those people that helped you arrive at this New Year. Think of those that are with us, and those that have passed. One minute of reflection to remember those that were there to support, guide, accept, direct, and be present in your life through their presence or their example.
Sixty seconds today. Put aside the time. And think of those that gave you this love.
Feel free to do this tomorrow, too. Maybe right before you eat, while you're brushing your teeth, taking a drive, or while you're getting ready for bed. It helps us be grateful, humble, and aware of the love that surrounds us. It makes us better.
It may even make us become, just a little more, like Fred McFeely Rogers.
Happy New Year.