By Cass DuCharme

Like many of you, I’m a huge Mr. Rogers fan. Since I was already in school when his show went national, I don’t remember watching him much as a child. I do, however, remember watching him as an adult as I was raising my own children. I have tremendous respect for Mr. Rogers and the life that he led on and off the screen. A life of love for everyone he met and a life of faith that he lived without ever quoting a verse of scripture.

Everyday, Mr. Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister, would welcome everyone to his neighborhood and sing that iconic song. Let’s sing it together. You may remain seated as we sing. 😊

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood
A neighborly day for a beauty
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you
So, let's make the most of this beautiful day
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please
Won't you please?
Please won't you be my neighbor?

Then he would say:

“You help to make each day a special day by just your being yourself. There’s nobody else in the whole world who’s exactly like you and people can like you exactly as you are.”

Wow, did you read that? Mr. Rogers said that he “likes” you, and me, “exactly as we are.” Wouldn’t the world be great if we all really did that, liking or loving everyone exactly as they are.

Sounds kind of like Jesus, doesn’t it? Throughout his life, he loved people exactly as they were. He was kind and loving to everyone, especially to those who were unlovable and different than he was.

Theologian Thomas Merton put it this way, he said, “the beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If loving them means we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

I love that! I love the way Mr. Rogers and Father Merton told us and showed us how to like and love everyone. By following Jesus’ example, they set an example for how we should love everyone “just the way they are”. Thank you for being my neighbor and liking me just the way I am. I like you just the way you are. Really.