Judge James Nelson

A Humble Tribute
(Written to CHPercolator Writing Group)
Esther Bradley-DeTally

Well, I might as well spit it out, and I think the best people to spit it out to is the CHPerc community, because you know what? Are you with me? You guys, and me too, include me, yep, are solid. We have something here, more than exchange of little, Times New Roman 12, words going across the ocean, and up into Wyoming, Nebraska, England, India, Pakistan, and even down in Temple City, California. We are a mix, we guys, and sometimes we rendezvous at restaurants near Disneyland, in Anaheim, (eat your heart out), or sometimes we just smile when a Haiku from Cochabamba trots up to our eyeball level. We are a tender, loving community, and we surf our waves, up, down, across and under.

I first thought about our circle of writers and their compassion for one another. We are Muslim, Christian, Bahá’í, Agnostic, you catch my drift. We are old, young, funny, serious, and all becoming people who sling words around either like the best fried hash in town, or bonbons wrapped in chocolate to kill for. I particularly noticed this underlying theme of caring a few years ago when one of us died, and Mike, Mike the wonderful Army man, often times in the Middle East, had a week off and somehow managed to be in the States, and managed to go to the funeral.

Something happened the other night at 8 p.m. which I’ll get to. Be patient reader. You know it’s all grist for the mill, but you know me. I have to go down and out and twist and turn within the rabbit warrens of my mind, before I spit it out. Yeah, spit it out.

A wonderful man, married for over 60 years to an equally wonderful wife, sat in a quiet family celebration, Bahá’í days of gift-giving and service. He just had dinner, and was sitting in his favorite chair, when all of a sudden, silence, and his huge, huge spirit left the physical world. Yep, this world we all know and love called the blue marble, the planet of names, this Purpose of Physical Reality, this soul workshop. He soared on to the other worlds of God.

This man was the cause of my finding my beloved Faith, a Faith often referred to as the “Spirit of the New Age.” This Faith has carved me out, taken barnacles off my soul. Now, I look at a lot, a lot, a lot, of people and see the Face of God in them. It’s not about lines, or borders, because the human heart doesn’t measure souls that way.

He was like a spiritual father to me and countless others. I will add my relationship to my birth father, although try as he may, was hard for both of us. We seemed to be two peas in the wrong pod. I often felt I never sang for my father, which is the title of a play and a play on words, which means I never was enough. But fortunately, I know deep in my bone marrow, most of us do our best, and if there was sand in my Becoming-A-Pearl-In-My-Shell, this sand grit buffed me up, polished me, for the here and now of today, and as I write these words I think, yeah, I’m an old Poil of a Goil.

So this man Jim, in whose Bahá’í community I live, sat and encouraged every fledgling speaker trying to reflect oneness in the world, shape their words. He also performed the marriage ceremony of my son Nicholas and his wife Laura. He’s visibly gone now. When I first heard the news, I felt a gasp within me and then my thoughts rushed to, “Dorothy, Dorothy,” his wife. They are like overlapping Venn diagrams, circles within, over, around, under each other. We in the local Bahá’í community know our treasures, and passionately love them. We never have taken them for granted. Every minute of their lives they welcomed, hugged, encouraged, and shed love and wisdom unto all of us waiting souls.

I know I’m overwriting. I’m trying to keep this simple. That’s why for you writers out there I’m doing a little bit of “write like you talk” with a “straight talk” phrase thrown in. If I really went into the majesty of this couple, my writing would become so multisyllabic and operatic that my prose would jump off the page.

So instead, I imagine this man who was magnanimous and majestic and prodigious in thought (had to get that word in) in his physical and spiritual presence, now seems to me like a 500 pound canary in spirit. You might say, “His cage door opened, and he went.”

May my life be worthy of all those who serve in this century of change.

Thanks for letting me share, and now, prayers and solace to his incredible wife—I will carry her around in the inner folds of my heart for a long time.

I think in the end, we all end up pulsating with love for one another.

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