Bono, Billy and Ruth

In a video tribute to Graham in 2005, Bono said:
“At a time when religion seems so often to get in the way of God’s work
With its shopping mall sales pitch and its bumper sticker reductionism
I give thanks just for the sanity of Billy Graham
For that clear empathetic voice of his
In that southern accent, part poet, part preacher
A singer of the human spirit, I’d say
Ah, yeah I give thanks for Billy Graham.”

“Over the years,” Bono told journalist Cathleen Falsani (Sojourners), “I met some preachers who did connect with me, for sure, and whose words return to me. I remember hearing about this fellow called Billy Graham. Church people would push him on you like your friends at school would push Elvis Presley records. Actually, they looked kind of similar – both stars from the South who spoke with a twang and had giant crowds come to see them.”

He related to her the story of the getting a surprise phone call in 2002 from someone in Dr. Graham’s office saying that he wanted to give the band a blessing.

“I told them, I said, ‘This is a big deal. This is BILLY GRAHAM!’ And they all said, ‘That’s great. But we’re in the middle of a tour.’ So I rented a plane and flew there right away in case he might forget. I was picked up by his son, Franklin, and driven a couple of hours up to their house. I met briefly with himself and his wife, Ruth. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that the blessings of an older man mean a great deal to me. Particularly this man.

“I gave him a book of Seamus Heaney poetry, and I wrote a poem for him in it,” Bono said.

That poem – handwritten on a piece of 8 ½” x 11”  paper in black felt-tip pen – now resides in the Billy Graham Library’s permanent collection.

Transcript of Bono’s poem to the Grahams:

The journey from Father to friend
is all paternal loves end
It was sung in my teenage ears
In the voice of a preacher
loudly soft on my tears
I would never forget this
Melody line
Or its lyric voice that gave my life
A Rhyme
a meaning that wasn’t there before
a child born in dung and straw
wish the Father’s love and desire to explain
how we might get on with each other again…

To the Rev Billy Graham (that preacher)
Ruth and all the Graham family
From Bono (March 11 2002)
With much love and respect

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