Welcome, Neighbor!

“Love one another.”
From John 13:34

The other day, I watched an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with my grandsons. The show is well done and has been the source of many discussions between me and the kids. It elicited precious memories. Daniel Tiger is one of Fred Roger’s make-believe friends from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood which I watched with my own sons too many decades ago. That effort wasn’t wasted as I truly tried to emulate Mr. Roger’s welcoming ways in my own life. His wisdom inspired my efforts, especially throughout my teaching career…

My most frustrating experiences were the result of observing stubborn or mean-spirited adults who refused to welcome others into the moment at hand as a neighbor would: A teacher who misrepresented a student rather than admit an error; a principal who refused to support a teacher whom she simply didn’t care for; a lunch monitor whose demeanor was less-than-welcoming toward “those” kids; a custodian who took his time when certain teachers called for help. This list exists in one form or another in just about every human institution, I know. How much more we’d accomplish if only we’d welcome one another as Fred Rogers -and Jesus- suggested.

Luke’s gospel tells us that a hungry homeless man, covered with sores, died on a rich man’s doorstep. He might have survived if the rich man had only welcomed him in. Today, God asks us to take notice of those above us, those below us and those who walk at our sides. “Take notice and welcome them all,” God says.

Patient God, I sometimes fail to offer your welcome. Please help me to see everyone around me with your loving eyes and to respond to each one with your loving heart.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Love, Plain and Simple

Bless the Lord, all you God’s chosen ones…
From Tobit 13:8

I admit that recent events in this world of ours have urged me into a bit of a funk. Fortunately, a day with my grandson brought about a much-needed change of attitude. Though Danny is allowed little screen-time, we occasionally watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. This furry little tiger originated in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood which I watched with my sons decades ago. It amazed me that the mild-mannered Fred Rogers captivated Mike and Tim for the duration of his show.

The hallmark of Fred Rogers’ work was his ability to make his audience members feel special and important, wanted and cherished. I think my husband and I did a reasonable job of making our sons feel loved. They’re loved more than I can ever put into words. Still, regardless of the similar good efforts of those around us, we sometimes feel devalued and unwanted. In spite of my parents’ best efforts, I recall my own childhood moments of dejection and loneliness. It was then that I vowed to assure my future children that they are loved no matter what!

You know, some of the trauma in this world seems to be the result of rejection at some level. Perhaps it’s time for us all to acknowledge not only the worth of our loved ones and ourselves, but also that of all with whom we share this planet. Perhaps it’s time to recognize that while YOU and I are God’s chosen ones, so are our perceived adversaries. Perhaps it’s time to make love the hallmark of all that we say and do.

Loving God, be with us in our efforts to love one another, especially when it is most difficult.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved