Last week’s podcast episode, no. 211 “A Men’s Breakfast Like No Other,” is one of my favorites. Click here if you missed it. Especially if you’re a woman and want to know what men talk about when you’re not around.

Today I'm sharing an example of what I’ve been saying at the end of every podcast episode (I think) since the very first one back in November of 2018. It’s an encouragement to

Spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them.

A beloved pillar of the community dies

An example of my closing comment comes from a newspaper article about the death of Senator Herb Kohl. It’s a local story that has global application, so bear with me for a moment if you’re one of our readers or podcast listeners in places like Nigeria, Ecuador, or Spain (yes, we have them there).

Herb Kohl, who died at age 88 on December 27, 2023, represented the State of Wisconsin for 24 years in the US Senate before he retired. At the same time, he also happened to own the Milwaukee Bucks NBA franchise before he sold it several years ago.

Kohl originally bought the Bucks to keep them from moving to another city, and a few years ago he contributed $100 million towards a new basketball arena to again keep them from leaving town. He earned his wealth earlier in life from a local chain of grocery stores he developed.

A legacy of joy

When he died our local newspaper interviewed the current head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, who many years ago was an assistant coach for the team. Here’s what Adrian Griffin had to say about his former boss:

“Every time I saw him, he knew all of us by name. It was my first time coaching and I just remember him walking around, greeting everybody. He was just always kind and generous and, you know, he treated us with a lot of respect. I didn’t even know he knew my name, but he knew everyone in the building. He just spread joy.
He was such a great human being. I know he’ll be missed.”

What a wonderful way to be remembered, as someone who just spread joy.

With only two days left to live

Then a few days after Kohl’s funeral another newspaper article reported how the senator’s favorite place to hang out in Milwaukee was the coffee shop in the Pfister Hotel. The Pfister is our city’s 5-star hotel built in 1893. Celerities spending the night in town all stay here. It’s as iconic to our community as Senator Kohl himself.

The lobby is gorgeous and its coffee shop is surprisingly inexpensive. I ate there a few times when I worked downtown years ago, and I once saw the senator there in person myself.

The newspaper article described Kohl as having never married, that he had no children, and how he ate at the Pfister’s coffee shop quite often. He was a regular.

Two days before he died, the senator stopped in with a $300 check for “every hotel employee – waiters, waitresses, cooks, dishwasher, concierges, and other staff.” The checks totaled about $40,000.

“A final tip from a grateful customer,” is how the newspaper article ended.

What a great way to close out one’s life here on earth.

So what about the rest of us?

Herb Kohl spread joy from his heart, and from his wallet, too. So can you and me.

Maybe not from our wallet, but possibly from our coin purse. But if not that, certainly from our heart.

It reflects the character of God when we do. With the new heart Jesus gives us when we turn to him, we have plenty of joy to spread around. And there's plenty of it left over for ourselves.

Until next week, I wish you all the joy that you can wish.*

John Certalic

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* The Merchant of Venice, Act III, scene 2