NUTZ, what a legend! Fr Wull and Ma’sel, chatting about UK daylight-saving time and gaining an extra hour on our short 9.30am Irvine Beat Soul Sunday Show, were recognising the vital importance of Light and Light Bearers, Good News and Good News Sharers, as we delve into our darkest seasonal stretch.
I was fresh from the sad and glorious privilege of conducting Ian NUTZ Downie’s funeral services at Fullarton Connexions and Riccarton Cemetery. Between services we followed Ian’s hearse through Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, where, for 19 years Ian was the ebullient, effervescent and energetic Kille FC mascot. It was moving to see so many supporters turn out to clap as Ian threaded them and Killie manager Alex Dyer laid a floral tribute in his hearse.
Regularly, during my 10 years as Killie chaplain, on my pastoral rounds behind the scenes on matchdays, I helped NUTZ on with his massive squirrel costume and watched with awe as he cartwheeled, lost his head and stuck it on backwards or carried it in his hands upside down. The bright energy Ian exuded as Nutz suggested a young man in his 20’s or 30’s rather than in his 60’s sweating buckets underneath a grinning facade. He especially loved bringing smiles to youngsters and disabled supporters, armed with a large bag of sweeties and oodles of cheek & charm. All monies from his 12 marathons and appearances at events, weddings, parties, Christmas Light switch-ons, etc, were channelled towards charity and benefitting others. Small in stature, Ian was a giant in generosity!
Ian loved Advent and Christmas, regularly appearing as Santa, decking his own hoose like Santa’s Grotto and delighting his family with Christmas magic. He wore a different Christmas jumper each day so, for the church funeral service, I wore my flashing light festive jumper, sure it’s what Ian would have wanted. Ian wasn’t perfect, no one but Jesus is, but in Jesus he intimately knew ‘The Light of The World’ and heeded well Christ’s command to reflect and channel His Loving Light.
Writing about Ian Downie overflows me with gratitude. I’m especially prayerful for, and mindful of, Sharon, Billy and all close family and friends, whose lives right now feel dimmed and dampened by Nutz’s ‘seeming’ demise. But Ian is part of a much bigger picture and resurrection story, which the gifts of faith, hope and love in Christ draw us into. As we enter darker days, like Ian, let’s open our lives to the brightness and beauty of God’s Sacrificial Love. As one wise one put it, “Better to light a candle than complain about the darkness!”