I never really cared for Mr. Rogers; I was more of a Captain Kangaroo fan. Mr. Rogers seemed sort of old-fashioned, boring, and preachy. Of course, I was a bit too old for his program by the time it began anyway. But one day last fall I was looking at my streaming options and saw that the Mr. Rogers movie, starring Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood} was available to watch.
The movie, they say, is very loosely based on a journalist who was asked to profile Fred Rogers for Esquire Magazine. The journalist was baffled, wondering what he could do with that sort of story from such a man; by the end of the movie, he became friends with Mr. Rodgers.
Toward the end of the movie, I learned something that has changed my life and my thoughts, something I would never have thought about, had I not seen the movie.
Mr. Rogers was portrayed praying one morning as he swam from one end of his swimming pool to the other. He simply spoke the first and last names of people, one after another. After the movie ended, I thought, is that really praying? But then I thought of ways I have prayed, telling God who I think he should He should change, who to bless, who to strengthen, who to make well; and then I realized that all this time, I've been telling Him what I thought He needed to do. Since He is all-knowing, maybe I should just try running the names of people past Him. Of course he knows their names too, but I like the idea of putting the names before him, and picturing the people as I say them.
My bladder wakes me up three or four times every night; I usually have no trouble going right back to sleep until the very early morning hours, and then it takes me longer; if I wake up at three A.M., I used to get up that early. But I no longer toss and turn, because that's when I start lifting up the names of my people. I start on the east coast with my longtime friend, Joanna. She's in her 80's and still works a full-time job. She's getting over the flu right now, but I just say her name. God knows she's had the flu. Then I remember Bill, on the west coast, another fellow I met on the Internet years ago; his sweet wife died not long ago. He's been paralyzed for many years. I remember my cousins in Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri, and my sister in Oklahoma. And of course, my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. There's Keith, across the highway, who has had a stroke; I know he's impatient that he can't get out and garden or go fishing any more. It is the most calming and peaceful time I've had, and leaves me very much at peace. Sometimes, my readers, I remember some of you also. The women who are widows, the ones who are hurting, the folks who are caretakers for a parent with dementia. Often I'm surprised at some of the names that come to mind.
This morning after I finished giving those people to God's care, I began to see a panorama of my life, just bits and pieces going through my mind as if blown through by a gentle breeze. I saw my children as babies, and Jersey cows and calves and chickens and goats. I saw myself picking blackberries in the woods and finding morel mushrooms; I saw horses and good dogs I have loved and lovely vegetable gardens I've had. I saw our dear Cora as the baby she was nine years ago; how she livened up the lives of two old folks. I've always had green pastures to walk on, where I sometimes would sit down and lean against a cow lying there, chewing her cud. I thought of all that and realized that I've had a wonderful life! And I got up with a smile on my face that must have lasted ten minutes.
And as I've typed all these words, I find myself smiling again, as my husband naps on the other end of the couch.
What a wonderful world!