Persons, places and things: Try a little kindness

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By Barb Arland-Fye
Editor

Jayson Johnson cherishes this memory from childhood: his mom, Janice, tells him they are going to play a game, searching for coins in the car. Whatever they find will pay for a trip to McDonald’s. Game over, they purchase a hamburger, shake and fries to split. Money was tight and his mom made a sacrifice so the two of them could enjoy a special treat together.

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Another memory: 14-year-old Jayson worked at a neighbor’s bicycle shop to help his mom out by earning spending money and also to save up for a bike. But his mom also scrimped and saved. One day she surprised him with the gift of that bike. “It was hard for me to contain my excitement,” Jayson remembers. A couple of days later, a friend accidentally damaged the bike while performing a trick on it. When Jayson’s mom heard about it, she was upset and drove over to the other boy’s house with Jayson beside her. In the driveway, Jayson looked at his mom and said, “What are you going to do Mom?” She responded, “I don’t know Jayson.” They laughed and pulled out of the driveway to return home.

These and other memories that Jayson shared at the recent funeral service for Janice Couch moved me deeply as I thought about the anger that pervades our society today. I long for and cherish stories of kindness and of letting go of anger that God draws to my attention when I need it most.

So I also cherish the story of 6-year-old Liliana Hake of St. Joseph, Michigan, who has completed 1,000 acts of kindness (wndu.com). I saw her story on late-night TV news and appreciated the sincerity with which this little girl spoke about her desire to make others feel good!

Later, I read the obituary of Karen Collins of St. Ann Parish in Long Grove. Her family wrote, “No one was a stranger in her presence and every encounter you had with her began with a big smile and an even bigger hug. She was authentically kind and caring, rooting for the underdog and always ensuring that no one was ever left out of anything.” Additionally, “She could never bring herself to say anything unkind about anyone, and although her family teased her about being a ‘goody two shoes,’ it is that part of her character we will miss most.” Children learn what they live. That part of their mom’s character can live on through their choosing to embrace it.

The family of the late Guido Bulgarelli, 105, said “He lived and breathed his love of God through his words, integrity, acts of kindness and love. His family carries on these values.” They celebrated the funeral Mass for Guido at St. Mary Catholic Church in Iowa City last week.

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Catholic Maritime News reported in its Winter 2019 issue that St. John XXIII prayed a simple prayer daily to stay connected to Jesus. It consisted of a list of 10 commitments, all of them excellent and doable. But one especially speaks to me, decades after St. John XXIII died:

“Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance. I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.”

Father Bill Reynolds of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton shared that magazine to bring my attention to an article on the sainthood cause of Benedictine Brother Marinus. His heroic actions during the Korean War as Captain Leonard LaRue helped save the lives of 14,000 Korean refugees. The ultimate act of kindness.

Each of these stories serve as gentle reminders that when we make the choice to be kind, when we make the choice to sacrifice for the sake of someone else, we create a kinder world — God’s kingdom on earth.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at arland-fye@davenportdiocese.org)


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