Fred Was a Good Neighbor
So I’ve had Mr. Rogers on the brain the past week thanks to our new series on neighbors. (I also had Gomer Pyle on the brain because of neighbors, but that didn’t really serve any point beyond my own amusement.) I had come across this story that I wanted to share in Sunday’s service, but since I didn’t get around to it, I thought I would share it here. Its from a 2008 article on reasons why Mr. Rogers was a great neighbor.
“He was genuinely curious about others. Mister Rogers was known as one of the toughest interviews because he'd often befriend reporters, asking them tons of questions, taking pictures of them, compiling an album for them at the end of their time together, and calling them after to check in on them and hear about their families. He wasn't concerned with himself, and genuinely loved hearing the life stories of others.
“And it wasn't just with reporters. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec's house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host).
“On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver's home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.”
So beyond teaching us how crayons are made and lessons from the Neighborhood of Make Believe, Mr. Rogers also exemplified what it means to be a good neighbor. Reaching out to people whose paths cross our own. Seeing in the random encounter something that might not be entirely random. Seeing a possible divine appointment requires us to keep our eyes wide open, and then requires us to take a bold step that we otherwise might not take. But therein lies the work of the neighbor. Therein lies the work to which we are called.