When I was young the children my age watched Captain Penny on television. He encouraged us to belong to the Clean Plate Club and would say at the close of each show: “You can fool some of the people all the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool Mom.” I am sure my mom appreciated that extra outside support.

For a later generation, children had Mr. Rogers. Fred Rogers extended the invitation to children to be his neighbor. His show demonstrated how everyone was invited to be a part of that neighborhood.

I recognize that Mr. Roger was so popular with children because his sincerity reached right through the TV and touched them. His puppets and human guests and actors conveyed a desire to be inclusive, to be a welcome part of the neighborhood.

St. Angela Merici told us to bring everything to the foot of the cross. Another way to say it is to bring everything to the feet of the story. Mr. Roger’s story was Jesus’ story and our story.

Mr. Roger reminded me of people like Mother Theresa who seemed to have the sight which allowed her to look at each person and see the face of Christ. I am sure St. Angela Merici did, too. Not many of us have this sight but with the desire to have it we can become seekers. We can look for the divine in those we meet, those we interact with, those who are emotionally closed down, and especially with those with whom we disagree. That was Jesus’ story of unconditional love and in every word he spoke, he was calling us to it.

Our poverty is not knowing the next page in the story. However, our admitting to our powerlessness sets the scene for God to open doors and surprise us with grace. We don’t have to be in control. The opposite is true. Transformation happens when we open our hearts while being vulnerable and welcoming.

The breeding ground for being seers of the divine is in meditation. The emptying of the mind of thoughts helps not to be filled with wonderful messages but to sit in the Emptiness. It means being at peace with ourselves. It also means sitting in the mystery that I am loved just the way I am with all my imperfect verbal, emotional and physical missteps. It means stopping myself from saying “I am not worthy” or as I used to rephrase it: “I am not worth it.” Depending upon how much and how long we have pushed ourselves down, the “knowing” comes through in the quiet emptiness that we are worthy. We are worth it. This is the co-mingling of our stories. Jesus’ story and the stories of every human, every creature and every part of creation.

We stay in the story in contemplative moments of grace where we share the commonness of our stories. Stories that do not separate, but rather ones that draw us into Oneness. They invite us to pay attention more to what draws us together, not what divides. The stories help us to look past the surface to see that shining brightly under our humanness is the divine. The mystical wisdom in the story is flying high but also staying close to the ground.

Jesus’ stories draw us outward and inward at the same time. What is within us is reflected outside. We just have to be courageous to pull down the “heart walls” that have protected us from being hurt all our lives. Then God can flow through the doors of our heart and allow us to see with the eyes of the Divine: the eyes of Oneness.

With meditation and grace I feel I can take a page out of Mr. Roger’s story (Jesus’ story) every day and sincerely welcome everyone into the neighborhood.

Sister Mary Eileen Boyle