I got to see the movie, It’s a Good Day in the Neighborhood, the wonderfully thoughtful narrative of how ‘radical kindness’ brought peace to a journalist who struggled to reconcile with his estranged father under the guidance of Fred Rogers, the American super star in children’s television. I mentioned in my last post that I had hoped to see the movie soon. It is worth seeing and savoring. And, if you are prone to sentimentality, take lots of Kleenex.
Yes, there is a hefty development of what ‘radical kindness’ means: Learning to love someone you really do not like, agree with, or with whom you harbor a major ‘falling out’. ‘Radical kindness’ is harder if it is someone you know.
I have a few more thoughts to share about radical kindness. I read a very comprehensive interview in The New York Times with Tom Hanks who played Fred Rogers in the movie. The article quoted Tom Junod, the journalist on whom the movie is based. Whenhe met Rogers, Junod had been carrying a spiteful estrangement from his father. He said he had come to Rogers with a heart like a spike: narrow and sharp. But after meetingRogers, his heart opened like an umbrella, full and happy to keep capturing beauty and forgiveness.
And so, for Advent…
Maybe we need to develop a heart like an open umbrella. I will be working on this for my own spiritual growth. Is there a place where I nourish more antipathy than joy? Where am I less kind? Or, to whom? Every day presents so many opportunities to be kind, radically kind, but am I selective by picking the opportunities I can conveniently handle? Lots to reflect on.
One of my favorite theologians, Karl Rahner, SJ, wrote a wonderful essay titled, The Advent Person in which he makes the argument that a person of advent believes in the future of faith (union with God in eternity). A person of advent does not mind waiting in this broken world for the more perfect existence of heaven. A person of advent “has a future before him which already exists, although it has not finally reached him: he calls it God.”
You are all on my prayer list this advent. If I don’t know your name, you get grouped in with “Anonymous Angels” of my life.