John August died on March 6, 2020. He was only 64 and had suffered from a rare cancer for two years. Being one of the “great ones,” John’s life reminds us that a full and incredible life is not determined by a certain number of years. John embraced life, making a multitude of friends along the way by his quick wit, imagination, and sincere compassion.
I knew John and his family through his children who went to St. Mark’s high school. After his passing, the family asked if I would speak at the funeral service. I was honored to do so.
At St. Mark’s, one form of prayer was the Senior Prayer Group, a weekly opportunity in a safe place where seniors could “create their own prayer” and find affirmation as they shared what matters most in their lives.
Over the years, the Senior Prayer Group grew, at times bringing in more than 200 twelfth graders. So we decided to offer a “Senior Prayer Group for Parents,” an evening gathering in which parents could catch a glimpse of the profound and beautiful ways in which their children prayed. It remains a unique grace from my spiritual journey.
Two day’s before the funeral service for John, his daughter Jaime gave me a copy of a letter her Dad wrote to her in March, 2000, when she was a senior.
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the senior prayer group that met with the parents last night. I felt something that I haven’t felt since I attended Matt’s senior prayer group when he was a senior.
I know it had a lot to do with Father Greg. I have never heard a man talk with such a fearless and loving approach in the pursuit of getting people, from young to old, to shed their skin, lose their fear of showing love, and willingly let their hearts do the talking rather than their egos.
His words and the way he communicates his thoughts of love and faith have a power that somehow makes people (me included) want to make a connection with God, within themselves, and with the people they love. I think we should say a prayer for him because he is truly a person that is blessed with what he calls “The Grace of God,” something that I am just starting to learn.
I also wanted to tell you that when he asked the parents to think of something they might want to say to their child, it only took me about two seconds before I knew what I wanted to say. When I said that you were one of the nicest persons that I know (and believe me I know a lot of people) I really meant it. I am so proud of you for being just you, and the love I have for you is true and sincere.
In closing this letter, I want you to know that whatever cards this life deals us (you, me and everyone else) if we believe in the power of communicating with our hearts wide open (and what a challenge that can be) I know we can always find an answer to those ‘mind-boggling, mysterious and “I don’t have a clue” questions’ that always seem to be present and unmanageable.
Welcome to the world of unknowns, and remember, you are never alone!
Thanks again, with love,
Your Main Man… Dad!
In John’s obituary, it was written, “In his memory, go on an adventure, be kind to everyone, laugh, and love.”
Thank you John for inspiring me, and so many others. You are right: Life is a wonderful adventure, a joyful journey that we co-create… a gift that we can fill with kindness, love, laughter, and a continually reaching out to others.
Peace to you.