It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood – somewhere

I have always wanted to be more like Mr. Rogers.  He went to work everyday, took OFF his blazer and put on a comfortable sweater and those comfortable tennis shoes.  I have to take off the comfortable stuff and put ON the blazer to go to work!  Mr. Rogers always had the calmest, quietest voice that could soothe even my young sons!  Ryan and Craig would STOP when they heard Mr. Rogers sing about it being a beautiful day in that neighborhood.  Often they would slowly wander over to the television set, sit down and let Mr. Rogers visit with them for awhile.  I was always amazed at Fred Rogers’ ability to quiet my rowdy kids!  I know Mr. Rogers had a bad day once in awhile, but I never saw it.  What do you do on those days when you can’t find a quiet spot to stop and be still?

Have you ever had a horrible, rotten, stinky bad day and wondered why?  I’ve been awake since 4:36.  I couldn’t go back to sleep and quite frankly, it has gone down hill from there!  I have given up sweets for Lent and I can tell you that I am in serious need of something CHOCOLATE!  I sat with the Lord this morning and we “talked.”  I explained my long list of things that really needed to improve and get taken care of.  I know He heard me, but I still have that same long list of things in front of me.  I don’t have many bad days and I don’t really know what to do when I hit one.  I don’t need for God to take anything away…but I sure could use a couple days in a quiet place, and the permission to just not care about things for a little while.  I wonder if that is how Jesus felt when he needed to be alone?

Jesus had just heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod.  Scripture says that when Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat, wanting to go to a solitary place Matthew 14:13.  But he wouldn’t have much time alone.  As soon as he landed, a large crowd approached.  Matthew 14:14 says, “he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”  It is comforting to know that there were times when even Jesus wanted to have solitary time.  And it is comforting to know that wanting it, and even needing it, wasn’t always possible – even for God’s Son.  When the disciples joined him later that evening, they told Jesus that it was late, and he needed to send all those people home.  Instead, they saw the miracle of their Lord feeding the five thousand.  Jesus needed time alone, instead he had a very long day of ministry to others.  Some days are just going to be hard days.  But the hard days are often the best days – if you spend them doing God’s work.

Fred McFeely Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister.  He was fascinated by television and thought it would be a good way to reach children.   He was right.  He began his day early, going to the local YMCA to swim.  He worked tirelessly writing, planning and performing in his show.  What is less known is the fact that he spent a lot of time writing personal letters and notes to people, making phone calls, visiting with and writing to children who were ill, and was often asked to speak at a variety of different venues.  Mr. Rogers was a busy man – but he learned how to be busy, with a quiet, peaceful spirit. 

The twenty-third Psalm says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”  I’m grateful for this Lenten season.  I think I want chocolate…but what I need is some time beside the quiet waters so God can refresh my soul.  And I will find that time soon.  But right now, I’ll pick up that long “to do” list, and ask God to help me know which things need to come first.  The next verse in Psalm 23 says, “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”  I’m going to trust God to guide me through the rest of this week.  What does your day look like today?  Let’s try to follow the examples set by Mr. Rogers and most importantly, his Lord.  Maybe it IS a beautiful day in my neighborhood, after all!

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