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Posts Tagged ‘Kindness’

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The film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” releases in theaters today. I haven’t seen it yet, but I think I already love this movie.

But let’s back the trolley up…

I have a confession: I grew up watching Mister Rogers, and I liked him fine, but I didn’t really appreciate him, not as a child. I remember being about 10 and not understanding the gentle guy with the soft voice and the puppet friends and the incessant drive to keep peace in the neighborhood. To always be neighborly, to point out how neighborly others were being.

And I didn’t understand why he would look into the camera (at me) and say, “You’re special,” and, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” These platitudes (I thought, at all of age ten) were lost on this emotionally struggling kid, because life hadn’t been special, there hadn’t been kindness or a safe, gentle community in which to develop healthy self image and relationships. Moving multiple times combined with dysfunctional dynamics had left me feeling disconnected with no grasp or appreciation for community and no concept of kind, gentle fatherly figures.

So I appreciated the polite guy in the sweater and alternating loafers, but I really didn’t know what to make of him. I mean, there weren’t really men like that (in my worldview). I think I decided he was only a caricature, a fictional invention, like the Six Million Dollar Man. Although why anyone would go to such lengths to invent a character who talked to slightly creepy little puppets didn’t make sense… Life in the real world simply did not look the way it did in Mister Rogers’ polite neighborhood, so, as pleasant as it was, it was just TV, not real.

But deep down, I wanted Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood to be real.

Can such a kind, neighborly world exist? What would it take? An army of Fred Rogers? An increase in education? A decrease in guns? A change of neighborhood? Where can we go where everyone is just like us?

Who is my neighbor?

Someone asked Jesus this question once, and his answer was to tell a story (what a novel idea!). The story of the Good Samaritan tells us what God thinks about where we should draw the line at kindness.

The Bible has a lot more to say about how we respond to others.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:17-18

If peace and harmony could actually be as simple as each person committing to live peaceably with all. If only we could actually resist the temptation to repay evil with evil, an eye for an eye, if we gave conscious thought to the way we respond instead of acting rash or retaliatory. If only Love was patient and kind. If only…

it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor. 13

Love takes the initiative, Love desires to have the last word, leave a lasting fragrance. Like Mister Rogers and his tireless devotion to kindness, peace, and treating each person as someone of special value—also known as Fruit of the Spirit.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” opens today, and I’m planning to see it tonight. I can only imagine how this story will impact me, now that I’m not that naive, jaded child, and now that I have a deepening and purposeful desire to see Love getting last word, and to see what impossible things God can do among us.

So I’ll be back… when the day is new… and I’ll have more ideas for you…

-Camille

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