Dogma unnerves me: this much incense; that many Hail Marys; say this, do that; kneel, stand, pray; it positions believers as in or out, amongst us or not, righteous or otherwise.
Mine is a more cacophonous faith: messier, more colorful, more inclusive.
I think Bo Lozoff’s was too.
Mister Rogers was a friend, and a fan. He purchased dozens of copies of Bo’s book, “Deep & Simple,” frequently sharing them as gifts — and citing them in conversation.
Bo and Sita’s Lozoff’s Human Kindness Foundation, was Christofer and my second “Mister Rogers & Me” shoot. We spent the night prior at a Holiday Inn in nearby Durham, NC, carboloaded breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, then drove unwittingly onto the ashram to have our minds blown.
Over the course of a long, humid, July day, Bo helped us understand the fundamentals of reflection, community and austerity across faiths. He cited the Old and New Testaments, sure. Plus the Torah, Koran, Buddha, Sitting Bull, Einstein, Rumi, Hafez and on and on and on.
Chris and I drove away in silence, and knew we had our film.
Performing a credible, compelling and well-produced rock show in ones office is no easy feat; even with my day job, the tech is a soul-swallowing rabbit hole.
And you can imagine the challenge of getting into a rock ‘n roll mindset a few steps from your bedroom. Staring into an iPhone. With only your kids and wife watching.
Plus, I recruited the girls. Last time they joined me for a live stream, their fidgeting and chattering nearly drove me bananas.
So I put them to work; I asked Maggie to sing “Senator’s Daughter,” and both to join me on “Silent Night.”
I only know the first verse of “Silent Night,” and the girls scarcely know that. So I set about seeking something for Maggie to read as Elsie and I hummed over our makeshift middle eight.
My first though was Linus’ “True Meaning of Christmas” monologue from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I once saw Jason Walsmith’s son, Mitchell, bring the house down with the thing. But “Jesus Christ Our Savior” felt like strong language for our family; he’s One of Our Guys, not necessarily Our Only Guy.
And so I kept searching (aka Googling “Solstice”), and landed on Hafez, whose poems are the basis of the Persian Soltice.
Midway though Monday night’s Benefit, as Elsie and hummed our makeshift bridge, Maggie read the poem from a piece of paper taped to the tripod.
Even after all this time
The Sun never says to the Earth
“You owe me”
Look what happens with a love like that
It lights the whole sky
I watched the girls settle and smile, then quietly hum together. I watched Abbi through the ring light, moderating comments, grinning and bopping her head. And I flashed back to that winter night, fifteen-years-ago at Rockwood Music Hall; what a miracle.
In an instant, I saw all of it — faith, God, love, marriage, fatherhood — with fresh eyes. For the first time, I almost understood.
The live stream ended. I closed the laptop, walked the girls downstairs and tucked them in.
All was calm. And all was bright.