Visit to the Oval Office

12 10 2010


From: Floyd Subject: Visit to the Oval Office

Story by: Bruce Vincent

Stepping into the Oval Office, each of us was introduced to the
President and Mrs. Bush.  We shook hands and participated in small talk.
When the President was told that we were from Libby , Montana , I
reminded him that Marc Racicot is our native son and the President
offered his warm thoughts about Governor Racicot. I have to tell you, I
was blown away by two things upon entering the office.  First, the Oval
Office sense of ‘place’ is unreal.  The President later shared a story
of Russian President Putin entering the room prepared to tackle the
President in a tough negotiation and upon entering, the atheist muttered
his first words to the President and they were “Oh, my God.”

I concurred. I could feel the history in my bones.  Second, the man that
inhabits the office engaged me with a firm handshake and a look that can
only be described as penetrating. Warm, alive, fully engaged,
disarmingly penetrating. I was admittedly concerned about meeting the
man. I think all of us have an inner hope that the most powerful man in
our country is worthy of the responsibility and authority that we bestow
upon them through our vote. I admit that part of me was afraid that I
would be let down by the moment — that the person and the place could
not meet the lofty expectations of my fantasy world. This says nothing
about my esteem for President Bush but just my practical realization
that reality may not match my ‘dream.’

Once inside the office, President Bush got right down to business and,
standing in front of his desk, handed out the awards one at a time while
posing for photos with the winners and Mrs. Bush. With the mission
accomplished, the President and Mrs. Bush relaxed and initiated a
lengthy, informal conversation about a number of things with our entire
small group. He and the First Lady talked about such things as the rug
in the office. It is traditionally designed by the First Lady to make a
statement about the President, and Mrs.Bush chose a brilliant yellow
sunburst pattern to reflect ‘hope.’  President Bush talked about the
absolute need to believe that with hard work and faith in God there is
every reason to start each day in the Oval Office with hope. He and the
First Lady were asked about the impact of the Presidency on their
marriage and, with an arm casually wrapped around Laura, he said that he
thought the place may be hard on weak marriages but that it had the
ability to make strong marriages even stronger and that he was blessed
with a strong one.

After about 30 or 35 minutes, it was time to go. By then we were all
relaxed and I felt as if I had just had an excellent visit with a
friend. The President and First Lady made one more pass down the line of
awardees, shaking hands and offering congratulations. When the President
shook my hand I said, “Thank you Mr. President and God bless you and
your family.”  He was already in motion to the next person in line, but
he stopped abruptly turned fully back to me, gave me a piercing look,
renewed the vigor of his handshake and said, “Thank you — and God bless
you and yours as well.”

On our way out of the office we were to leave by the glass doors on the
west side of the office. I was the last person in the exit line. As I
shook his hand one final time, President Bush said, “I’ll be sure to
tell Marc hello and give him your regards.”

I then did something that surprised even me. I said to him, “Mr.
President, I know you are a busy man and your time is precious. I also
know you to be a man of strong faith and I have a favor to ask of you.”

As he shook my hand he looked me in the eye and said, “Just name it.” I
told him that my step-Mom was at that moment in a hospital in Kalispell
, Montana , having a tumor removed from her skull and it would mean a
great deal to me if he would consider adding her to his prayers that
day. He grabbed me by the arm and took me back toward his desk as he
said, “So that’s it. I could tell that something is weighing heavy on
your heart today. I could see it in your eyes.This explains it.”

>From the top drawer of his desk he retrieved a pen and a note card with
his seal on it and asked, “How do you spell her name?” He then jotted a
note to her while discussing the importance of family and the strength
of prayer. When he handed me the card, he asked about the surgery and
the prognosis. I told him we were hoping that it is not a recurrence of
an earlier cancer and that, if it is, they can get it all with this

He said, “If it’s okay with you, we’ll take care of the prayer right
now. Would you pray with me?” I told him yes and he turned to the staff
that remained in the office and hand motioned the folks to step back or
leave. He said, “Bruce and I would like some private time for a prayer.”

As they left he turned back to me and took my hands in his. I was
prepared to do a traditional prayer stance — standing with each other
with heads bowed. Instead, he reached for my head with his right hand
and pulling gently forward, he placed my head on his shoulder.  With his
left arm on my mid-back, he pulled me to him in a prayerful embrace.

He started to pray softly. I started to cry. He continued his prayer for
Loretta and for God’s perfect will to be done. I cried some more. My
body shook a bit as I cried and he just held tighter. He closed by
asking God’s blessing on Loretta and the family during the coming
months. I stepped away from our embrace, wiped my eyes, swiped at the
tears I’d left on his shoulder, and looked into the eyes of our
president. I thanked him as best I could and told him that me and my
family would continue praying for him and his.

As I write this account down and reflect upon what it means, I have to
tell you that all I really know is that his simple act left me humbled
and believing. I so hoped that the man I thought him to be was the man
that he is. I know that our nation needs a man such as this in the Oval
Office. George W. Bush is the real deal. I’ve read Internet stories
about the President praying with troops in hospitals and other such
uplifting accounts. Each time I read them I hoped them to be true and
not an Internet perpetuated myth. This one, I know to be true. I was
there. He is real. He has a pile of incredible stuff on his plate each
day — and yet he is tuned in so well to the here and now that he
‘sensed’ something heavy on my heart. He took time out of his life to
care, to share, and to seek God’s blessing for my family in a simple
man-to-man, father-to-father, son-to-son, husband-to-husband, Christian-
to-Christian prayerful embrace. He’s not what I had hoped he would be.
He is, in fact, so very, very much more.

NOTE: If you decide to forward this story… please do not add to it.
Let Mr. Vincent’s encounter stand as he wrote it.




One response

5 08 2013
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