Today, Oprah Winfrey signs off after 25 years on daytime television. It has been, by any estimation, an astonishing career. In episodes (4561), Emmys (48), guests (30,000 -- including at least one Jesuit), gifts given, books promoted, money made -- even in that most unusual of daytime television categories, spinoff programs, Oprah has soared not just head and shoulders but whole continents above her competition. (For enough amazing Oprah statistics to begin to fill a Harper's Index, click here.)
As the press proceeds to dissect Oprah's legacy, may I offer one thought. Part of what made us love Oprha, even those of us like myself who only watched the occasional clip of her show, is that she seemed to see herself as trying to share the things that she loved. It's really no coincidence that she became known for giving things like cars or trips to Australia away; on so many levels, that was her M.O. She was the one that discovered fun or important things, uncovered amazing stories and people, and she wanted to share them with her 40 million plus closest friends.
You and I, we don't have talk shows or pulpits of that size -- at least I don't. (Your Holiness, if you're reading, never you mind.) And our spheres of friendship and influence are far smaller. But still, the example of Oprah reminds me that whatever the size of the worlds that we inhabit, that gifts that we have, the blessings that God gives us, really can touch other people's lives and make our world a better place.
When I think of Oprah, that is my favorite thing.
Jim McDermott, S.J.