We saw the Mister Rogers movie—It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood—over Thanksgiving. The man could s-l-o-w . . . d-o-w-n. A simple act, slowing down; yet a great and welcome salve, especially for the frayed and jangled imbibers of 24-hour news and Instagram.
If interesting people are interested, Mister Rogers was fascinating. To the great dismay of all those whose job it was to keep him on schedule, his only concern in the moment seemed to be—genuinely be—the person in front of him, each individual who had somehow found him or herself drawn into the Fred Rogers’ orbit. His interest was not transactional. He did not need anything from you. He seemed to look deep inside you, concerned about only this: he wanted you to be yourself, he wanted you to be his neighbor. He cared about you as true neighbors do. No matter what, he deemed you worthy of that care.
In a world where glitter and glamour epitomize flourishing, Mister Rogers wore zipped up sweaters knitted by his mom. In a world that rushed, he took his time. In a world afraid to talk about the hard stuff—that goes to great lengths to avoid or deny the shadow side—he faced it head on with dignity, compassion, and a vision of this truth: that within each of us resides wholeness, within each of us lives the rightful heir of God’s love. If Christ were to really come again, how would he or she—you or me—be any different?
Lord, be our alarm clock as we make our way through this Advent in expectation of your coming. Keep us from “sleeping at the switch” so that our life of faith has an opportunity to grow and mature in us, and so that our life in the world becomes one of light and honor and love. Above all, let us not sleep through your call. Give us the grace to use this Advent season as a time for our own growth and the growth of our spiritual community. Amen.excerpt from the devotional reader, Advent and Christmas with Thomas Merton