How A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD Reminded Me of the Small Ways God Moves
By Jessilyn Lancaster, Managing Editor
Tom Hanks’ opening scene as Fred Rogers in A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD had me in tears. The jolly television host sang his iconic theme song, welcoming neighbors into his home for an emotional and beautiful journey.
It was more than nostalgia that overwhelmed me as Hanks opened the picture board, showing the audience familiar faces and one new one: a bruised and beaten Lloyd Vogel.
Mister Rogers then asks the audience about forgiveness, about how to release the feelings of hurt and brokenness. Though Rogers asked simple questions in a gentle way, the magnitude of his words struck a chord in my adulthood. It was a message that hit too close to home as my husband and I wrestle with forgiving broken people in our lives, including ourselves.
Yet in those moments, we remembered why we liked MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD all those years ago. Rogers didn’t teach children math games or phonics. His simple puppets looked hand-made and well-worn. He spoke to children in an understanding, compassionate tone. Rogers asked thoughtful questions and reminded children that it’s OK to feel.
Children, like adults, experience pain, anger, elation, sadness, joy, and a slew of other emotions. Mister Rogers, the person and TV show, taught children how to process these feelings in a healthy, biblical way. Even when speaking to adults, Rogers’ uncomplicated wisdom allowed truth to overcome bitterness.
MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD was more than a brand, it was a lifestyle. Though Rogers has since died, his kind legacy continues to leave an impact.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD wasn’t the story of a perfect man. Rather, the movie showed how Mister Rogers died to his flesh in order to let Christ shine. These acts of selflessness impacted even the most jaded reporter and shows how Christ through us can change lives.
As Rogers, Hanks prayed for his friends and acquaintances. He stopped his schedule to befriend the least of these. He visited the sick and elderly. He experienced human moments of frustration but admitted his shortcomings and released his anger to the Lord.
Sometimes, I get so caught up in looking for God in the big picture. I want Him to move mountains on my behalf. I want to hear His voice loud and clear, dictating my next move.
Yet, Rogers’ Christ-like attitude is a reminder of how God moves in small ways. God is with us on the subway, in our office, at our homes, in our conversations. If we let Him, He can guide our words, our actions, our attitudes. We need only practice tuning into Him to experience His profound presence in our daily lives.