The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers

Mister Rogers: A Presence Transformed by Prayer

When I asked for your prayers, I didn’t imply to be vague about the will need. ~ Fred Rogers, in a letter sent in spring 1995

The ritualistic tenor of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — the familiar wardrobe adjust in and out of comfy clothing the similar opening and closing songs the mixture of factory visits, make-think, and maybe a speedy delivery or two — was meant to make the kids (and adults) who watched really feel protected. When a young viewer expressed concern about no matter if he on a regular basis fed the fish — she was blind and couldn’t see him undertaking it — he rapidly added a vocalization to his routine to assure her of every fish feeding.

You normally knew what to count on from Mister Rogers (“I like to be told,” he utilized to sing). The familiarity gave a sense of permanence, and permanent issues could be depended on. Mister Rogers’ graying hair and diminishing stature had been the only issues that changed more than the years. Even the curtains stayed the similar. Each day ritual was critical. When Mister Rogers left, you knew he was coming back.

Fred Rogers’ true life integrated the similar sense of ceremony. His every day routine was impeccably observed: he awoke at five a.m. for prayer, reflection, and Bible reading took a 7:30 a.m. swim at the neighborhood pool (exactly where he weighed in at specifically 143 pounds every day) followed his usual workday routine and kept to a 9:30 p.m. bedtime. Even his diet regime had rite-like clarity: no alcohol and no meat.

It is not challenging to see why a man with this level of discipline would be in a position to cultivate an interior life that would inspire awe in other folks. He after asked me, “You know how when you locate somebody who you know is in touch with the truth, how you want to be in the presence of that particular person?”

Persons felt that way about him. I’ve noticed cameramen on assignment in the Neighborhood moved to tears by his kindness. One particular lady even remarked to her husband upon meeting Fred for the initially time, “I assume I just had a religious practical experience.” He had that one of a kind, transforming presence: Mother Teresa in a cardigan.

Of all his every day disciplines, the 1 that contributed most to this transforming presence was the 1 that started at 5 o’clock in the morning. Slowing down, taking time, and appreciating silence are all foundational elements of the subsequent toast stick he passed on to me: the value of prayer. Each and every morning he prayed for his household and good friends by name, nonetheless supplying his gratitude for these on his list who had passed away.

His prayers didn’t finish there but continued into his every day swim. Just before diving into the pool, he would sing (out loud but not as well loud) “Jubilate Deo,” a song Henri Nouwen had taught him from the Taizé neighborhood in France. “Jubilate Deo, jubilate Deo, alleluia (Rejoice in the Lord, rejoice in the Lord, alleluia),” he would sing and dive in. He emerged from the pool prepared to face a new day with a fresh slate, as if wet from baptism.

The prayers continued into his workday: “When I stroll in that studio door every day, I say, ‘Dear God, let some word that is heard be Yours,’” he told me for the duration of our initially meeting. Not only had been his spoken words on tv a concentrate of prayer but also the many choices that had to be produced every day. “When I asked for your prayers,” he wrote in an early letter, “I didn’t imply to be vague about the will need. I normally pray that by means of what ever we create (what ever we say and do) some word that is heard could possibly eventually be God’s word. That is my primary concern. All the other folks are minor compared to that. As you know in this organization there are numerous choices each and every day (each and every hour!) and I solicit your prayers for guidance from above in all the choices which should be produced all the time.

He continued his prayers when he ventured outdoors the studio. Occasionally he was invited to areas in order to pray, as when he received an honorary doctorate (his twenty-fifth) from Boston University in 1992. The university had asked Fred to open the commencement ceremony with prayer. An older academic with a white beard rose to the podium to announce: “The invocation will now be delivered by Mister Fred Rogers.” Just before he could finish, the 5 thousand graduates went wild, whooping and hollering out the name of the man they had grown up with, the man whose every day visits convinced them they had been “special.” When Fred reached the podium, the tumult began once again, cameras flashing all through the crowd. How would he ever calm them down adequate to pray? The answer seemed like the organic factor to do (to Fred at least). He leaned sheepishly into the mike and mentioned, “You wanna sing with me?” And then chiding ever so slightly, “Why do not you just sit down, and we’ll sing this song with each other.” And so with each other he and his legion of tv neighbors started to sing — in excellent unison, due to the fact they all remembered the words — “It’s a Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood.” Waves of red robes swayed side to side, arms intertwined, subdued by the sense of safety and ritual that Mister Rogers had normally provided them. He was their robed curate, and their congregational response, uplifting and reminiscent, led suitable into prayer.

“Dear God, please inspire our hearts to come ever closer to You,” Fred started, just before praying for households, good friends, and teachers. “We pray for… these people today who know us and accept us as we are. These people today who encourage us to see what’s actually fine in life.” Possibly the graduates had been pondering of Mister Rogers just then.

He moved from the certain to the common: “We pray for all the people today of Your globe, our sisters and brothers whose names we could not know but whose lives are eventually valuable in Your sight. With all our hearts, we pray for all Your kids everywhere — yes, everywhere,” he mentioned, emphatically stressing the final word.

Following praying for other folks, he turned the prayers to himself and to the graduates: “And lastly we supply our strengths and our weaknesses, our joys and our sorrows to Your in no way-ending care. Support us to try to remember all by means of our lives that we in no way will need to do challenging issues alone, that Your presence is merely for the asking and our ultimate future is assured by Your unselfish like. In our deepest gratitude we supply this prayer. Amen.”

Connection, the Essence of Prayer

All the things Fred Rogers did was a prelude to — or an outcome of — prayer.

Volumes of books have been written on prayer, maybe due to the fact it is from time to time simpler to study about it than to basically do it. But the essence of prayer is partnership, and Fred understood that. Even when he was explaining prayer to a young girl (I had asked him a query on her behalf about unanswered prayer), his seemingly uncomplicated explanation would enlighten even the most seasoned supplicant: “Now, you know prayer is asking for some thing, and from time to time you get a yes answer and from time to time you get a no answer,” he meticulously explained. “And just like something else you could possibly get angry when you get a no answer. But God respects your feelings, and God can take your anger as properly as your happiness. So what ever you have to supply God by means of prayer — it appears to me — is a good present. Since the factor God desires most of all is a partnership with you, yeah, even as a kid — specially as a kid. Appear how Jesus loved the kids who came about Him,” he told her.

In a different try to assist kids fully grasp about prayer, Mister Rogers after took his tv neighbors along for a take a look at to the Sturgis Pretzel Residence, founded by Julius Sturgis, in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County. The baker explained to Mister Rogers and the viewers (my then-3-year-old son and I had been watching that day) how monks extended ago gave pretzels as treats to kids who had remembered their prayers. The dough was rolled into strips and crossed, to represent a child’s arms folded in prayer (pretzel implies “little arms”), and the 3 holes in the pretzel represented the Trinity.

Occasionally it is the uncomplicated issues that remind us: dough molded into pretzels serves as a gentle reminder to pray bread sliced into toast sticks brings back memories of the kindness of good friends who are no longer right here.

Excerpted with permission from The Easy Faith of Mister Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth, copyright Amy Hollingsworth.

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Your Turn

Mister Rogers helped raise generations of young people today to know that they had been loved and that he normally wanted as a neighbor “just like you.” He lived out his faith with the kindness and warmth of Jesus so that just listening to his theme song can bring a tear to the eye. We want to leave a legacy of like, prayer, and faith in Jesus. Let’s get started nowadays in prayer, in quiet, and go out rejoicing! Come share your thoughts with us on our weblog. We want to hear from you!