My all time, flat out, absolute hero is Fred Rogers. His gentle spirit ministered to America's children for four decades. He taught little ones that they are special just the way they are. He taught them how to deal with feelings and fears. He helped the children explore the world. He payed attention to those who are most overlooked.
Whenever something horrid happens, the Internet and the television pundits ring out with the famous Mr. Roger's quote: "Look for the helpers." His mother had comforted him with that bit of advice when he was a young boy and was scared. Mr. Rogers himself comforted the nation's children in the aftermath of 9/11. "Look for the helpers."
I love that advice, but would caution all of us grown ups to remember that Mr. Rogers was speaking to children. We seemed to think he was speaking to us. Maybe it was our narcissism, maybe it was because Mr. Rogers had ushered us through our own childhoods, but we need to remember that the dear man in the red sweater was not speaking to us in that moment. Mr. Rogers gave children the very best advice for them. When a child is faced with a situation that they cannot control and that is scary and confusing, they must look around for the helpers. There are always helpers- people who know how to get things right again, people to tame the monsters and light the dark. There are always helpers to guide the little ones to safety and to comfort them with their presence.
That advice was aimed at children.
What advice is there for us who reluctantly are cast into the sometimes dark and frightening adult world?
Listen carefully, dear friends....
Be the Helper.
We have grown up. We traded toys and dolls for freedoms and responsibilities. Our responsibility is to those little ones that Mr. Rogers left in our care. They are looking in the midst of the shootings and the hate and the atrocities...they are looking for the helpers. That's us. That has to be us.
We are each uniquely gifted to be a helper. When we were small, Mr. Rogers encouraged us to think about who we were and what our gifts and talents were. He featured all sorts of grown ups using their unique gifts to help their neighbors, remember? He encouraged us that when we could, we would find our gift and use it to help our neighbors. Sweet friends, it happened! We grew up! It's time!
What is your gift? Encouragement, Caring, Helping, Healing, Listening.... You know what your gift is. It is that thing you do that fills your heart with joy. It is that thing that comes as naturally as breathing to you, the thing you can't help but do. How can you use your gift to help your neighbors? Be careful here. I don't mean how can you use your talents in an occupation. Go further. How can you use your special gift to help minister to the people all around you? If you are a medical provider, that is wonderful! How can you help heal hurt outside of your practice? We are all called to be helpers to our neighbors. You know, of course, that our neighborhood is a bit bigger than the one Mr. Rogers could showcase in miniature houses during his welcome to his television house. Our neighborhood is immense. It covers the globe. Our neighbors are scattered all around the world and while we may be divided by political boundaries, ideologies and language, we are united in our uniqueness and value. How can you then ,dear friend, be the helper you are called to be? How can you minister to those around you?
Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister. He ministered to generations of children who are now adults and who are his legacy. The man ministered God's love to us for all of those years. It's time for us to be the helpers we are called to be and minister God's love to those neighbors we see who are hurting...and there are so many of them... So many are looking around for the helpers. They are looking for us. Let's go.