Monday, March 30, 2009
Dan's uncle, James Nuttall, died this past weekend. He lived in Pakistan and was a priest in the Dominican order. Dan's mother, aunt and brother flew to Pakistan to visit him - a trip that was accelerated when we learned that he was failing quickly after having a stroke several weeks ago. Fortunately, they arrived before he died and were able to say hello before having to say good-bye. From the small amount of news filtering out to us back here, it sounds like he was surrounded by people who loved and appreciated him. He was buried there - his home for many decades.
Uncle Jimmy, as everyone I know called him so I called him that too, was a rare person to meet. A true Bodhisattva. When I thought about the times I met him, I realized that they hardly numbered a dozen, if that. Yet somehow his influence was huge. He was completely ordinary and thus completely extraordinary. He lived fearlessly.
Uncle Jimmy worked tirelessly for peace in big and small ways: at conferences with world leaders and in everyday conversations. Some might remember that, a couple of weeks after 9/11/01, a church in Pakistan was bombed and several people were killed. It was Uncle Jimmy's church. By coincidence, his scheduled service had been re-scheduled, so the bombs that were intended for him and his fellow worshippers fell on others. The incident made international news and he was interviewed by the Boston Globe, which would be his hometown newspaper had he stayed where he grew up. His response was to condemn the bombing but also to caution that we might get confused if we started sending out our own bombs in response. Who would be the terrorist then? Not surprisingly, he wasn't interviewed much after that quote.
There are so many more stories about Uncle Jim, most of them ending in a big laugh.
I don't know what it was like to have a person like Jimmy as one's brother or actual uncle, but I feel very lucky to have made his acquaintance. He is already sorely missed.