You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘answered prayer’ tag.
Conrad Black has been on my mind recently. He pops to mind every so often when I read something about him, or by him. That’s been the case ever since I met the man, 16 years ago, when we spent two hours together in a small room.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you about it.
It was 1993, and Mr. Black’s autobiography, A Life In Progress, had just been published. A partner and I had a small television production business at the time producing something called “satellite media tours,” or SMTs. It sounds terribly complicated and impressive – but it was really a simple, beautiful idea that met with some success here in Canada largely because there was a need for the service. This was, after all, before the Internet age.
The way it worked was this: when people wanted to communicate with a large number of TV stations across the country in a short period of time, an SMT would allow them to do so. My partner and I would make the necessary arrangements. We’d hire a small studio at the Rogers Centre (in downtown Toronto – it was called the SkyDome in those days), and book a couple of hours time on a satellite. Then we’d call TV stations across the country and tell them, “On such and such a date, so and so is available for a one-on-one interview. Would you like to participate?” Each station that wanted an interview would get a ten minute window in which to conduct their own.
At the beginning of the “tour,” the guest would sit in the studio at the SkyDome with a little ear piece in their ear, listening to the questions from the interviewer at station #1, and would talk into the camera to give their answers. The good folks at Dome Productions would uplink the signal to the satellite. The station at the other end would downlink the signal and record their own 10-minute interview. Then we’d move on to the next station’s 10-minute interview and the next. And voila! In the span of an hour or two, you could reach as many stations as typically wanted to do interviews. It was a great little business. We did just about one SMT a month for a couple of years. We could put together a tour in three or four days; and it provided a nice little stream of income in those few days that enabled me to be the stay-at-home mom – all the other days of the month – that I wanted to be.
(I remember on more than one occasion feeding Cheerios one-by-one over my shoulder to my then one-year-old son Mark – who would be in the backpack – in an attempt to keep him happy and quiet, while I negotiated SMT details with participating TV stations from my office in the basement of our home. But that’s a whole other story.)
My partner and I had coffee mugs made up with our company name and logo on them, and the words, “I’ve been uplinked!” We gave them to each of our guests. Including Conrad Black. You see, a PR firm hired us to put together an SMT for Mr. Black to talk about his autobiography. Knowing I would be sitting in a tiny studio (it was not much bigger than a closet, really) with the man for a couple of hours, I decided to read his book, thinking it would give us something to chat about in between interviews.
Something in his book surprised me
Now I really don’t remember what it was, exactly, in his book that surprised me. But I remember reading one particular anecdote and wondering why he had chosen to share it. If I recall correctly, it was something relatively personal, and it struck me that he was making himself vulnerable in the revelation. Why would a person of his wealth and position want to make himself vulnerable like that?
So while in that tiny studio – in between interviews – I asked him why he’d told that particular tale. His response surprised me even more. “Do you think I shouldn’t have?” he asked. I have a mental image of him leaning forward in complete earnest. I was taken aback. What difference could it possibly make to Conrad Black what I thought about anything? Why should he care?
And yet – he seemed to care. Genuinely.
I remember stammering something (probably completely stupid and lame) in response. But I’ve never forgotten his question to me. “Do you think I shouldn’t have?”
I’ve thought of that brief episode – in which my life and his intersected – many times over the past 16 years. I thought of it often as I followed the news coverage of his trial. I’ve reflected on the fact that if he is indeed a person who cares as deeply as he seemed to that day – about what other people think of who he is, what he does and the choices he makes – how difficult it must be for him to be in the position he’s in today.
And often, as he’s come to mind, I’ve breathed a little prayer for the man, asking God to use this experience in his life for his ultimate good.
Thus he infiltrated my thoughts and prayers again recently, when I read his Nov. 14, 2009 story in The National Post, Conrad Black on the rewards of teaching fellow inmates.
It’s a “tug-at-your-heart-strings” kind of piece in which Mr. Black makes himself vulnerable once again. “It has been my good fortune to be well-received in some learned and distinguished places,” he writes, “and I am always grateful for considered applause, but never more so than when complimented by my students on receipt of my advanced tutor’s certificate at our graduating ceremony here a couple of months ago.”
Concluding, he writes, “It pains me to verge on platitudes, but life’s rewards do sometimes come in strange ways and unexpected places.”
And as I thought about the once mighty man, typing away on his computer keyboard, all the while processing the lessons he’s learned while in prison, it occurred to me that God sometimes answers our prayers for our fellow men in strange ways and in unexpected places.
On another note, do you suppose he still has his “I’ve been uplinked!” coffee mug?