After turning down offers from Barbara Walters and Geraldo Rivera, Rich Finley has agreed to a one on one interview with Tom Brokaw. Tom has flown to Rich’s vacation home in Bozeman Montana. Rich greets him in the driveway.
“Welcome to Bozeman Mr. Brokaw”.
“The pleasure is all mine and please call me Tom. The ride from the airport was so invigorating. The mountains are so majestic, it’s like a painting.” Tom replied.
“Yes, we call it our 1000 mile view. I love bringing people here to see God’s creation. He’s such an artist and he’s just showing off in this country. I own 1000 acres here, would you like to see the views?”
“That would be great” Tom replied as he climbed into the Ranger.
As the pair headed up the mountain Tom couldn’t stop talking about the amazing views and crisp fresh air. ” I notice how well groomed these trails are.” He said. “Do you hire someone to maintain your property?”
“No, I do it all myself. I enjoy the time alone in God’s country. I feel like it’s the only place my soul can breathe. It’s out here that I can find myself and truly come alive”. Just then Rich stopped the Ranger and pointed out a magnificent 10 point buck that was drinking from one of the 4 streams on the property. You could tell that Tom was taken in by the scene as a quiet peace came over him. Continuing up the mountain, Tom broke the silence by asking “what do you do with this property?”
“Mostly I vacation here with my family. My boys love to hunt and fish and my wife and daughter enjoy watching the wild life and reading by the pond. I also guide hunts for wounded warriors and young children just starting out. I also enjoy letting my friends and extended family use it for their vacations. It’s a pretty special place.”
As the Ranger passed a grove of Aspens Tom looked to the top of the snow covered peak to where a rock protruded from the summit. “That’s what I call Look Out Point” Rich explained. “It’s where I go to pray and recharge. The views are the best in the world and the world just falls away when I’m up there. It’s a supernatural experience.”
Tom seemed lost in the magic as the Ranger crept to a crawl so Tom could see the herd of elk staring back at him. The large bull was herding his cows back into the majestic pines. The moment seemed eternal. A reflecting back to ancient of days. A gut feeling of “This is as I was meant to be”. A transcendent connection to generations past and those yet to come. By this point, Tom was almost hypnotized in tranquility and was only jarred back by the screeching of a bald eagle. Suddenly remembering that he had an interview to do, he asked ” How many animals do you see here?”
“Over the years we’ve seen moose, coyotes, bobcats, turkeys and bear, but we see mule deer, whitetail deer, elk and rams all the time. I see a lot of owls as well. Once I was reading a book in my tree stand and a large owl landed on my head. The sun was at my back and the shadow in front of me made the owl look 4 feet tall. I froze as he perched there and the weight of the owl was starting to get to me. He was really heavy. The book I had been reading was about hearing God’s voice, so while the owl was still on my head I asked God, ” What’s this about?”. I’ve learned through the years that Jesus is very playful. For some reason I’ve had many, many birds land on me over the years and many encounters with owls. Anyway I didn’t hear Gods voice right then ( although I have since) and as my neck was starting to buckle under the weight, the bird suddenly took off to the faint sound of flapping wings and almost effortless flight. Still smiling, I shook my head and opened my book to the next chapter. The heading was a scripture.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge
Stuff like that happens all the time here.”
Tom replied: “You’re telling me that’s a true story?”
” Yes, and I could tell you a 1000 more. Many people have found what they needed in this environment. I don’t have cable or internet or TV. A man needs to unplug every so often for at least 3 days to hear that soft inner voice of truth. Unplugging with the combination of God’s wild creation….well, that’s a combination for breakthrough. And it’s not always the mountain views. For some its the ocean, for others the desert, still others the beach. It’s so crucial to take the time. Get off the treadmill. Quit the rat race. There are lives at stake! You do make a difference. Your actions do effect others. ”
By this point Tom is absolutely stunned. I mean blown away. He just wanted to report a story accurately, not be brought into all this personal “who am I” questions that he was now entertaining. But he couldn’t help it. It felt so true. He was taken with the thoughts that maybe he too could have an impact beyond this world. Maybe destiny was set by eternity. Yet we still had a choice. Hmmm. Silence as we drove back down the mountain.
All of a sudden the interviewer blurts out ” I tried religion once and it didn’t work!”
I shouldn’t be, but I’m still surprised by the flipping of a switch within a person. I’ve always admired Tom. I felt that he reported truthfully to the best of his knowledge. If he had a personal opinion about a hot topic like gay marriage or abortion or gun control, he didn’t show it. Like he was honestly seeking truth. But now he was out of character from the tv person I thought I knew. This is what happens in my presence. This is my gifting. For some reason people get real with me. Glancing at his face I could tell he wished he hadn’t of blurted that out, so I asked him to explain the statement.
Tom went on to explain some painful experiences from a 9 month involvement with a new age church that he had been invited to by a Hollywood friend. As he was wrapping up his experiences with me, we finally arrived back at my cabin nestled at the base of the mountain. Dusk was setting in. There was a thick fog rising above the pond where a dozen geese were settled in for the night. I started a camp fire and invited Tom inside.