Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Teacher Within - Shepherd

What happens to us when we confront a learning situation is determined by our inner state. When we use the opportunities that arise to sort out our internal world, we prepare to explore new concepts.
A woman’s tears taught Fred Rogers this profound lesson about attuning to what is happening inside. In his book The World According to Mister Rogers (Hyperion, New York, 2003, page 126), the well-known Presbyterian minister who hosted the captivating children’s television show: "Mister Roger’s Neighborhood" recounts the incident. As a seminary student, he vacationed at a small town in New England. Sunday morning he went to hear a visiting preacher. In his opinion, the sermon was the worst he had ever heard.
As the sermon concluded, Fred Rogers looked at the woman beside him and saw her tears. Then he heard her murmur, “He said exactly what I needed to hear.”
That morning he learned that how we come to worship profoundly impacts the value of that time of worship for us. What is happening inside will determine the impact of what we hear.
Fred Rogers admits, “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. “ Coming with an attitude of need to fill the void in her life, she received teaching that helped her find her way. The seminary student’s failure to recognize his inner needs prevented him from hearing anything of value.
Fred Rogers learned his lesson well. He came to value and encourage that awareness we need to develop the world within, so we can learn to allow God to speak in the silent place and take us into new explorations about life and about ourselves.
An example was an event that happened at the White House many years later. Many distinguished educators gathered for a conference where they were presenting before the President their accumulated academic theories of education. Among them was Fred Rogers. Since time was limited, each presenter was permitted a maximum of eight minutes for their discourse. When Mister Rogers’ turn came, he began by inviting those who were present to take the first three minutes and recall the teacher or instructor who had had the most profound impact on their lives.
People were astonished that he would waste three minutes of his valuable talking time this way. However, several months later, some of the same educators gathered for another event. As they talked together they discovered that the only speaker who had left a lasting impact was Fred Rogers. They did not remember the theories or profound wisdom that had been shared by the other speakers. However, all of them could recall the person they thought about during the three minutes at the beginning of Mister Rogers’ presentation and what he had said about the impact of such a teacher. Maybe the greatest teacher is to one who helps us learn to listen and attend to the still small voice within.

Eleanor Shepherd

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