September 26, 2017

A Day of Kindness

September 26, 2017 (269/365)

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." ~ Aesop

I have many fond memories of my years at Marquette University, but perhaps the most lasting and meaningful were the thirty minutes that I spent each night in St. Joan of Arc chapel. After a long day of lectures, sailing practice, studying, etc., the 10:00 pm Mass was my solace, my center, my peace. It was warm and reverent and filled with faith, friends, and music. Every night was special, but on Tuesday nights, it was standing room only as we gathered around Father John Naus -- a Jesuit priest, a clown, a philosopher, a mentor, and a friend. He dedicated his life to teaching people to have faith, to think deeply, and to laugh. Father Naus taught me many things that, years later, still make me smile:
  • Find out what you love and you'll never work another day in your life! (displayed on the bulletin board by my desk at school.)
  • Eastern philosophy is more fun with fortune cookies, balloon animals make exams less stressful, miniature carnations will brighten your room for a week, and the Godspell soundtrack will stick in your head like an endless, looping prayer. 
  • We rarely succeed at anything unless we have fun doing it.
  • Clowns (like Tumbleweed) don't have to be scary.
  • If you forget the words to a song, just lip-sync "watermelon!"
  • Laughter is one of God's greatest gifts.
  • See written on the forehead of everyone you meet: "make me feel important."
At Father Naus' memorial Mass four years ago today, we sang "Rejoice and Be Glad" and my heavy heart began to lighten. I realized that my tears that night were not really sadness for myself but for the generations of Marquette students who would never be blessed to have known this extraordinary man. Yet Father Naus' generous spirit lives in all of us whom he taught to "Be The Difference" and his philosophy continues to be a lesson for everyone. Since he passed away in 2013, the Marquette Community has dedicated September 26th as the Father Naus Day of Kindness. To participate, simply find a way to brighten someone's day - so simple, so powerful, so Father Naus.