Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

The Gift

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Sometimes you buy a book for your daughter and give it to her, beautifully wrapped, as a graduation present – and she is very polite about it. Then she sets it down on the coffee table. Permanently. You pick it up and realize that you actually bought the book for yourself in the first place.

I have loved reading The World According to Mr. Rogers: Important Things to Remember, by Fred Rogers. It’s a small, simple gift book. But not too simple, and not too small – about 200 pages of collected thoughts and quotations. One of my favorites is this…

Jane Addams, writing about her Twenty Years at Hull House, said, “People did not want to hear about simple things. They wanted to hear about great things – simply told.”

That is, of course, what Mr. Rogers does.

The book begins with a foreword by his wife, Joanne, and proceeds thematically from “The Courage to Be Yourself,” “Understanding Love,” and “The Challenges of Inner Discipline,” to “We are All Neighbors.” This is not a book for your most cynical friend – unless it is?

I’ll share a few passages this Sunday morning, and I hope that they will bless you with warm thoughts and feelings – and encouragement – as they have blessed me.

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“It came to me ever so slowly that the best way to know the truth was to begin trusting what my inner truth was…and trying to share it – not right away – only after I had worked hard at trying to understand it.”

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“Beside my chair is a saying in French. It inspires me every day. It’s a sentence from Satin-Exupery’s The Little Prince, and it reads, “L’essential est invisible pour les yeux.” (What is essential is invisible to the eyes.) The closer we get to know the truth of that sentence, the closer I feel we get to wisdom.”

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“Play does seem to open up another part of the mind that is always there, but that, since childhood, may have become closed off and hard to reach. When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit. We’re helping ourselves stay in touch with that spirit, too. It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.”

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“One summer, midway through Seminary, I was on a weekend vacation in a little town in New England. I decided on Sunday to go hear a visiting preacher in the little town’s chapel. I heard the worst sermon I could have ever imagined. I sat in the pew thinking, “He’s going against every rule they’re teaching us about preaching. What a waste of time!” That’s what I thought until the very end of the sermon when I happened to see the person beside me with tears in her eyes whispering, “He said exactly what I needed to hear.” It was then that I knew something very important had happened in that service. The woman beside me had come in need. Somehow the words of that poorly crafted sermon had been translated into a message that spoke to her heart. On the other hand, I had come in judgment, and I heard nothing but the faults.

It was a long time before I realized it, but that sermon’s effect on the person beside me turned out to be one of the great lessons of my life. Thanks to that preacher and listener-in-need, I now know that the space between a person doing his or her best to deliver a message of good news and the needy listener is holy ground. Recognizing that seems to have allowed me to forgive myself for being the accuser that day. In fact, that New England Sunday experience has fueled my desire to be a better advocate, a better “neighbor,” wherever I am.”

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I planted the daylilies (in the photos) in the fall of 2017. Last summer, they first came up – dispirited, weak, and wan. There was some greenery – some – and two or three flowers. They hate it here, I thought. I’ve planted them in the wrong soil, and they’re getting the wrong sun. Perhaps I will move them, I thought, but I never did. I see now: they were building their strength.

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Happy Father’s Day, Bacon dads! And to my own. And to my husband. With love.

18 Comments

  1. Thank you for this beautiful gift this morning!

  2. Lovely ideas for an important day: Thank You, Jennifer!

  3. Such lovely sentiments and photos to start my day!

  4. Jennifer, I loved this post. I chuckled about the book you bought for your daughter but you actually bought it for yourself! What a man of quiet wisdom. Thank you!

  5. Wow! What a gift. I think time is showing he was a genuine seraph.

    I’m getting the book!

  6. Oh Jennifer. Just what I needed today. Thank you (and Mr Rogers). xoxo, Lucy

  7. Wonderful thoughts… thank you!

  8. What lovely messages from such humility! A breath of goodness and blessing to start my week. Grateful to you, Jennifer!

  9. Thank you, Jennifer, for your lovely post from Mr. Rogers’ book. He touches my heart and helps me see through purer eyes.

  10. Lovely. Mr. Rogers is a favorite of mine.

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