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 As an ‘older’ mom, I often heard from younger moms with children my girls’ age that he was out of date and old fashioned.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.

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Scott Free? Far From It…

 Things I’ve Learned And LINKs (bottom of page) to Helpful Resources. I’ve learned that nobody gets off scott-free.  The death of one of my daughters at the age of 19 smacked me down to a place I never knew existed and climbing out of that hole has taken me to places I know were meant for me to visit. Why? I have no idea. How long will it take to heal? There is NO such thing.  In Molly’s memory I promise to engage her youthful exuberant spirit into my daily life.  As E.E. Cummings said: “I carry your heart with me”. For the last two years I have hosted a Facebook wall(s) for bereaved parents. 1) A New Journey (public wall/2000+ subscribers)  and 2) A new Journey (private wall/small group) for parents who want a private place to pour out their feelings. The name of this Blog, My Big Red Shoe, is a spin-off of my original personal blog dedicated to Molly. Some of those posts are shared below: 

When The Angel Of Death Comes For Your Child : A description of this loss as a ‘bomb site’. First responders arrive to help. Our Spirit Functions At A Higher Level : Does the spirit function at a level that we are not aware of?
The Tenderhearted Friend A description of the type of friend every bereaved parent would be thankful for.
External Beings Experiencing An Earthly Life Are we merely flesh and bones with no spirit or soul? If we have a soul, then what does that mean?
After The First Year Things to expect after the first year anniversary of your child’s death. Many are not prepared for it.
Quit Expecting Me To Get Over This : A discussion of the road travelled by bereaved parents and the ease in which they can fall into a perpetual dark place. Video of Dr. Pilstick as he explains his view of this type of loss.
Video Of  A Mother’s Journey Of Grief: 2 videos.  1)Cynthia Seefahrt talks about her journey after her son died in a mountain climbing accident. 2) A clip from the documentary ‘Space Between Breaths’, interviewing parents who are trying to find their way after losing a child.
Our Children Are Not Lost : Word choices. Sensitivity to the word ‘lost’. Where are our children?Watching My Parents A window into the heart of a sibling who grieved the death of her brother and gives thanks for the way her parents went through the loss. Her fear that things could never be the same again.
External Beings Experiencing An Earthly Life Are we merely flesh and bones with no spirit or soul? If we have a soul, then what does that mean?Attitude Matters Do our minds influence our physical world? Does the energy of our soul communicate through vibration?
Mark Twain Discusses The Death Of His Child… To me, Suzi was but a treasure in a bank, the amount known, to be counted on……
THAT’S Something To Think About Are we evolving in a spiritual way that would make Darwin roll over in his grave?
Soul Searching Have we had a hand in choosing our journey before we were born into this world? Did we agree to this heartbreaking experience? Thought provoking.
Sorrow And Expected Recovery Sorrow strips away the bumpers of life that ricochet us away from serious introspection. Is it transformational?
Who Understands This Pain? In the midst of tragedy, shock often renders us senseless.
Conversations In Memoriam: The Elephant In The Room :One of the hardest things for bereaved parents; being surrounded by family or friends and nobody will talk about the deceased child, share memories, or even mention the name.
Rock Star Eric Clapton Talks About Losing His Son “This isn’t my son. It looks a bit like him. But he’s gone.”
What Never To Do When Someone You Love Loses A Child : Dr. Barker lists 9 things to avoid when you a trying to help someone who has lost a child.
Poetry: A Mourning Walk A morning walk becomes a mourning walk…
5 Stages of Grief Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is a pioneer in near death studies. She spent her life contributing to hospice care and has written extensively about grief.
Choking On Reality The see-saw effect of trying to find hope vs. the grip of grief.
Questions About Heaven And My Child (answered by a medium) Concetta Bertoldi (author/medium) answers questions about heaven. (excerpts from her book). Is there Heaven? What happens when we die? (3 parts)
The Day the Music Died Insights about the simple joys that are lost when a child dies. Words of comfort by a best selling author who discusses what has happened and how to face the challenges of the future.
A 2005 Study Shows 76% of Physicians Believe In An Afterlife Doctors and hospice workers spend inordinate amounts of time with children and adults who pass. Many have shared their extraordinary experiences with death. Additionally, much research has been done on near-death-experiences as well as the ability of certain individuals to communicate with those who’ve crossed from this plane to the next
Joy? What Joy? My Three Letter Word is….WHY? Is is possible to find joy after the death of a child? Kathleen O’Hara writes about that 3-letter word in her book, A Grief Like No Other.
Why Me? Thoughts in response to the questions that will never have a satisfactory answer.
A Mother’s Connection Selected remarks made by Sandy Wiltshire at the conclusion of her book, My Gift of Light. Her journey and search for meaning, after the loss of her daughter, was not only unique but interesting. An eye opener.
How To Talk To A Bereaved Parent In her book, Parental Loss of a Child, author Theresa Rando discusses that we are living in a death-denying society.
Author Tom Crider Discusses The Loss Of His Daughter The writer’s only child, Gretchen, died in an apartment fire at age twenty-one. From Give Sorrow Words: A Father’s Passage Through Grief -by Tom Crider
The Test. Can We Pass It? J.R. Macduff  goes right to the center of suffering in this short piece about ‘the test’.
I Dream Of Jeannie’s Nightmare : Barbara Eden, star of the sit-com rerun favorite I Dream Of Jeannie is interviewed about her son’s death. Also included is an interview with Donny Osmond talking about is sister Marie in the aftermath of her son’s suicide.
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother The story of a manwho saw a ‘need’ and did something to help. As bereaved parents the love we have for our child never dies. Within it lies the power of positve energy. That energy can be used in so many ways to help others. This energy/love has often been called a ‘giving’ memorial

The New Testament teaches about man’s endless conscious existence…..by Lehman Strauss
 The Original Vessel The Original Vessel is described in  honor of a single father named Howard, whose only daughter, Lori, had been murdered. For years after it happened, Howard lost interest in everything he once valued. He felt ‘completely gutted’ inside and could not………….(discussion of how to get through it)
Discusses the choices that arise as we begin to face the future without our child.
Birthday Letter To Molly Oct 4, 2011. Today would have been Molly’s 22nd birthday
This is a list of BOOKS I would recommend to greving parents:
-Soul Shift – by Mark Ireland -The Shack – by William Paul Young -Lessons from the Light – George Anderson -Blessings From The Other Side – Sylvia Browne -Embraced By The Light – Betty Eadie -Start The Conversation – Ganga Stone -Tear Soup – Pat Schwiebert and Chuck Deklyen -A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis -Where Wonders Prevail – Joan Wester Anderson -Seven Steps To Heaven – Miles Davis -The Space Between Breaths (DVR documentary about losing a child) -A Grace Disguised – Jerry Sittser -Your Eternal Self – Craig Hogan -Visitations From The Afterlife – Lee Lawson -Streams in the Desert – L.B. Cowman (great devotions) -No Time For Goodbyes 1 by Janice Harris LordThese titles represent both biblical perspectives as well as non-biblical.Your local library is a wonderful place to request titles……..at no cost. Amazon.com is an online bookseller and ‘used’ books can be purchased at a discount.  ♥*We share so many similarities but we also find comfort in unique ways. Some books will appeal to one person and not another. Seek.  Marsha