I just finished reading the book The Faith of Mr. Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth and just can’t help posting a short passage from the very end when she interviews him one last time.
Amy: If you had one final broadcast, one final opportunity to address your television neighbors, and you could tell them the single most important lesson of your life, what would you say?
Mr. Rogers: I would want [those] who are listening somehow to know that they had unique value, that there isn’t anybody in the whole world exactly like them and that there never has been and there never will be.
And that they are loved by the Person Who created them in a unique way.
If they know that and really know it and have that behind their eyes, they could look with those eyes on their neighbor and realize, ‘My neighbor has unique value too; there’s never been anybody in the whole world like my neighbor, and there never will be.’ If they could value that person – if they could love that person – in ways that we know that the Eternal loves us, then I would be very grateful.
I, just like Mr. Rogers, cannot see the faces of most of my middle school science students since they elect to keep their cameras off, but I can still imagine their face behind the colored circle in the video class and know that there is a real person there who needs a teacher who cares. So I speak to them and try hard to focus my eyes on the camera so that they feel that my gaze is on them. That is one thing that Mr. Rogers did that really impressed me as a child. He was looking at me and speaking to me, or so I felt. And in a way he was because he was letting God use him as a tool to spread His love.
It is well-known that Mr. Roger’s favorite quote, which he had framed in his office, was from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. During the Prince’s encounter with the lonely fox, the fox tells him his secret:
“…it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
This is what I wish to keep in mind as I interact with all, especially my students and my own children; that they are so precious in the eyes of God and He causes me to “see rightly what is essential” in them so that I can come to love and appreciate them with His Love if I only fuse myself with it.