Steampunk Priest and the Helpers

I’ve been thinking about Halloween and comments some make about how easy it could be for me to just dress up as a priest. Well, it could, but that seems too irreverent, so I never will. However, I was thinking about how dressing up as a Steampunk Priest might be fun. So, I googled it, like any good, red-blooded, American male, to see what others have done, if anything. There is a bit of stuff and some good ideas. However…

I came across a blog: Steampunk Vicar. His latest post had a quote from Rev. Rogers (that’s “Mr. Rogers” to you and me, of Neighborhood fame, who was, in fact, an ordained Presbyterian minister). This little quote may be one of those things that just shifts my whole perspective (kind of like what Steampunk does). Here it is:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” (Fred Rogers)

Mr./Rev. Rogers’ mother was a profoundly wise woman, and I am sure much of Mr. Rogers’ sensibility came from her.

Look for those who are helping! Instead of absorbing the blathering of crazed pundits or protesting ditties, look for those who are helping. It is easy to talk and can be fun to march, but to roll up one’s sleeves and be in the midst of those who smack-you-upside-the-head need help – on the ground, in the field, beside the one prone in the gutter – will be a much better and in the end more satisfying-for-the-soul thing to do. In the midst of the worst of everything, look for the helpers! I want to be with the helpers.


There is this little thing called “unconditional love” – this strange, alien, seemingly unattainable thing. To love, unconditionally. To be loved, unconditionally.

Over the last few months, I’ve been made to realize – forced to confront – how very far from this strange, little, glorious, horrible thing I fall. It pains me greatly, daily, this shortcoming, this failure of mine – it is never, ever just about me when such a failing is made real. This isn’t sentimentalism, BTW. It is diminishment all around, however.

Considering an other, one beloved of God, before myself – well, I like to believe it so. How in the world to pick back up, again? Yet, here I am.

We all imagine ourselves to be capable of such a thing, right? I strive for it, but in the end my conditioning in this narcissistic culture of ours, my fear, my faithlessness, my selfishness – all of it – wins the day, and that which gives contentment, gives honest peace, gives life-to-the-full (all for the sake of the other, and to be realized myself as a result) is put off further down the road… so many more miles down the road. It is never, ever just about me.

And we all lose out on a bit more… love. If I want to find my true life, I have to lose my life – give it away. So say we all. Right? How strange, how alien in our day (in any human day), is this unconditional love. I want to try, again.

On Facebook, where the above was first posted, a good friend of High School days responded, and I responded…
Lynn Duskey Gagnon – Most of the worlds greatest literature examines this very longing. I suspect, Bob, you are farther along on this path than you think. . .probably farther along at seeking it than most, and closer to it for the contemplation of it. I do a disservice to those around me by shying away from thinking too deeply about unconditional love, lest I fall into a great abyss of depression at what I might find. After all, is it really possible for humans, or is unconditional love strictly divine?

Bob Griffith – My goodness, Lynn Duskey Gagnon, from disco lessons to wondering whether unconditional love can only be of the Divine. It has taken us a long time to get here, I suppose. I remember when, and correct me if I am wrong, you pulled out of acting as a career partly because of things teachers required of you – limits you would not cross, and rightfully so for you at the time. When I was thinking about the same career path, I wonder now about where my own limits might have fallen – or actually fallen away. This thing about unconditional love – so hard to think of it beyond the conditional… how we’ve been conditioned to understand “love” and the giving and receiving of it. Is there a reckless abandon concerning love that we must give ourselves to, beyond what is comfortable or conventional or expected or accepted in order to find the unconditional aspect of it all? Is that what makes great actors great? Is that what enables one to love, mightily? Is there a limit, a boundary when crossed over, that leads to something destructive, counter to what we truly desire – whether being a good actor or one who might be able to tap the Divine and taste but a bit of unconditional love?