Mr. Rogers Deep And Simple

It’s a Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood…

Mr. Rogers was a daily part of our morning when my daughters were little girls. As an ‘older’ mom, I often heard from younger moms with children my girls’ age that he was out of date and old fashioned.

In a world of Rugrats and fiesty self-oriented cartoon characters, Mr Rogers represented a tone and message I felt was missing in much of children’s programming. Truth be told, I loved his field trips, learned how crayons are made and other assorted lessons right along with them.

I recently read an article which reminded me that no matter what happens in life, ‘simple and deep’ is probably what drew me to Mr. Rogers as well as to the most important people in my life. I was also reminded that sometimes in darkness and pain we move away from the light rather than toward it’s offer of comfort and care. I realized that in the last  couple of years, in many ways, I allowed a void to take the place of things that used to bring me comfort; including places I used to visit regularly, music I used to love, and memories that made me smile.

“Light’ for me represents faith and belief in whichever way it is described. Whether it is referred to in terms of God, Christ, Jesus, Buddah, Hope, Heaven, The Other Side, Connection, Love, Eternity……I have become less concerned with the ‘labels’ in the last two years, and much more aware of the ‘greater’ concept.

The following, written by Lex Breckinridge, reminded me why Mr. Rogers was a part of my daughters’  lives. He offered light in a simple way.

“Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” This off-the-cuff observation was made by Fred Rogers, better known as “Mr. Rogers,” creator of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” the longest running series on PBS. He said it to a young man named Benjamin Wagner during a conversation about Wagner’s job as a journalist and a producer for MTV, a job that Wagner regarded with much ambivalence. Rogers turned to him and said, “You know, Benjamin, I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” Mr. Rogers died not long thereafter, and Benjamin, who said that this comment haunted him for years, set out on a journey of discovery to get to know the real Mr. Rogers, to seek out the neighbors who knew Mr. Rogers best, to see what that seemingly offhand comment might really mean.

The results of this search may be seen in a beautiful, moving documentary film called “Mr. Rogers & Me,” now showing on PBS. Benjamin discovered that Fred Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister who was in later years a faithful Episcopalian, was exactly the same warm, compassionate, caring person in real life as the character he played on his long-running children’s television program. He was completely sincere when he would say face-to-face to one person what he said to millions of children, “I like you just the way you are.”

In the documentary we see the late Tim Russert saying that Rogers was “… forever taking advantage of every moment to tell people that it is important that we respect one another and love one another.” Linda Ellerbe observes that Rogers believed that everyone “… had this wonderful person inside who was just dying to get out, and he was going to open the door for you, and then help you open the door for others. That’s pretty simple and pretty deep.” A life’s work spent affirming the goodness of individual human beings, honoring their dignity, and teaching and encouraging them to pass that respect and love along to others. That sounds positively counter cultural. It certainly goes against the grain of our noisy, hypercompetitive world. In fact, it sounds like the gospel, and it sounds like Jesus’ instructions to his disciples to go spread the good news. Deep and simple, indeed.

We work diligently to make our lives complex. Do you feel as if your life is overscheduled? If so, chances are it is overly complex. Yet, all this complexity gets in the way of true human encounters. Anything and everything we do that does not affirm the worth of another human being or that ignores or overlooks another person who is as much God’s Beloved as we are probably indicates a degree of complexity in our lives that is life-denying rather than life-affirming.

Fred Rogers seems to have lived life with very little stress. He was an extremely intelligent and gifted person, so it’s not as if he were not paying attention. The pursuit of material things was also not a priority for him, although he clearly had all that he needed. His low stress life was a result of placing others first. In everything he did, and in every human encounter he had, he “sought to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving his neighbor as himself,” as the Baptismal covenant puts it. Seems like a pretty straightforward prescription to reduce complexity and thereby reduce stress in our own lives. Summer is a good time to begin this practice, a time to make every human encounter a valuable one, a time to see Christ in one another. Deep and simple.  -Lex Breckinridge, Rector at St. Thomas Epicsopal Church Medina (from the June 2012 Collect)

See Nobody Gets Off Scott Free for a full list of articles and resources for bereaved parents and/or those experiencing loss.


Ever Think About This?

Thought For Today (5/21/12)

Sometimes a person can just relate.

I’ll get started again next week….




Thought For Today (5/18/12)

What’s Up With The… HATE THE 1% ?

 I know of a man who started life poor, never went to college, worked odd jobs and then worked for a (gasp) 1%-er. He saved his money, lived frugally and began his own small business while still working for Mr. 1%. Within 2 years he was able to sustain his new small business and left his full time job.

Over a 10 year period he hired 20 employees while he and his young family rented a small home. By year 15 his business grew to 30 employees and his bank account also grew. He provided health and dental care insurance for his employees.

By year 20 his taxes were 35% of his income and the government regulations on his business had become so strangling, he had to let 2 employees go. He has reached the (gasp again) 1% of Americans that politicians are telling us to envy and punish. Last year he had saved enough to retire, but he is 60 years old, still filled with energy and loves his work. Though he could retire and travel, he realized that his retirement would cause the closing of his business (or selling of it) and 45 people would lose their jobs, …thus 45 potential American families might struggle. So THAT evil 1%-er decided to cross his fingers, hope the government does not regulate him out of business….keep on running the business. 

Small businesses employ nearly 1/2 the private sector employees. My contention is that they aren’t evil and they aren’t trying to take anything from any of us. Are politicians using the latest bad/evil news about banks and wall street to get us to lump all 1%-ers together?

People in their 20’s and 30’s are not likely to be in the 1% unless they inherited the wealth or a business that a family member spent years building. It takes time, sacrifice, long work days, and willingness to risk to grow something into a thriving business. We should be inspired by people who are willing to do that rather than angry at their success. Sorry, I’m just not a 1% hater. MOST of them are small business owners who have helped many of us by providing jobs.   I’m not willing to lump them in with the greedy bankers whose stories make T.V. headlines.

Book: The Millionaire Next Door: Researcher collected stats of the typical millionaire in America. The surprise: he/she typically owns a small business (like a janatorial business), lives in a middle income neigborhood (not a McMansion), drinks Budweiser beer (not fancy upper end cocktails), drives an American car that is not new (and owes nothing on it)………very interesting book.

(Category of this post: Today’s News. To follow this blog, check right sidebar) 


Thought For Today (5/16/12)

In an effort to scrounge for something SWEET to snack on last night I found an OLD abandoned Weight Watchers ice cream bar hiding in the FREEZER…smashed and misshapen. I knew it would likely taste freezer burned, but I peeled open the wrapper with images  of Ben and Jerry’s dancing through my head. Why do I set my self up for SUCH a let down? Yes…I ate every blechy freezer tasting bite.

 Category: Today’s News



Yes, the Honey Badger Youtube nature clips are NOT meant for kids, but I don’t have kids in earshot anymore

…and narrator, Randall, can make me laugh with his exclamation,

“Honey Badger Don’t Care!”

Sometimes that line just fits perfectly into a  ‘life’ situation. Who knew there were Honey Badger beer tags. Go figure…