A friend of mine gave me a copy of Tim Russert's audio book, Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons, and I listened to the first CD on my way to New Haven to pick up my daughter at the train station. I had to grab a tissue. To be honest with you, I didn't think I would find it that interesting. Who really cares about what some celebrity has to say about his father? I have my own feelings about my dad and I don't think I could write a book about it. At least I didn't think that until I began listening to the audio book.
I was confused with what I was listening to because I thought this was his book about his dad. Russert explained that this was actually the follow up book. It arose out of the overwhelming response he received from people across the country who read his book and wrote him letters and emails. He said he received over 60,000 letters and he read everyone. He was moved by the stories, the memories, the emotion of those who shared snippets of their life with their fathers.
As the dialogue progressed with thoughts by Russert and clips from the letters he received, I was enthralled with what I was hearing. The truth is that you can't hear these stories without thinking of your own dad or imagining what your children think of you. I cried and I laughed as I listened to the book.
The truth is that there was another level of understanding that stood over the whole experience for me. I knew that Tim had died a few weeks ago and that his son Luke, the same age as my oldest daughter, was probably overwhelmed by the loss of his father. Yet, these pages of of his story were a precious gift that he had left his son. Luke will always have this gift to remember his father by. That is what I call the grace of God. In the midst of suffering and loss, God always gives us something to hold onto. But that is another sermonette for another day.
What struck me the most about this writing in the light of the tragic real life drama, is that Tim left us a legacy where those of us who didn't know him personally, could draw closer to him and identify with what is most important in life. Funny, but the same is true of the Gospel. In God's wisdom, the story of our Lord was written down and preserved so that those who never knew him in life, would be able to know him in his death. In the pages of scripture we meet the compassionate savior who came to save the world. You can't help but be moved by him. He reached out to all members of society without prejudice. He looked upon us with eyes of love and told us about his father and the plan he had.
Sometimes I read the Gospels and I need a tissue because I can feel the heart of God coming through the pages. You see it is about a Father's love. As Russert says, "There are good fathers and bad fathers. But I want to tell you about the good ones." That is exactly what Jesus said but he qualified it even further when he said he wanted to share about the best of all fathers and his love.
I don't know what you are going to do this summer, but I suggest you pick up two books. Pick up Russert's book and pick up the New Testament. Let me warn though. You will need a tissue but you will be blessed.