Andrée Seu Peterson: An hour at evening

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, January 21st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. You may know Andrée Seu Peterson as a WORLD Magazine columnist, but you may not know that “Seu” is not a middle name her parents gave her at birth. No, it’s spelled S-E-U, the last name of her late husband, who died in 1999.

REICHARD: Today we revisit Andrée’s reflections in the days after her husband’s death. It’s taken from her book of columns titled, Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me.

ANDRÉE SEU PETERSON, COMMENTATOR: Bradfield liked trucks, that’s for sure. Liked them well enough to have one chiseled into his medium-grade granite—an 18-wheeler, no less. Or maybe it was his loved ones who identified the man with the métier, a notion that might seem laughable to the present Mr. Bradfield. But in this world the living prevail.

Funny though, your being cheek by jowl with a trucker, you who made your living with pen and ink and your companions among the connoisseurs of ideas. Death is the great leveler, is it not?

Want to hear a good one? The groundskeeper tells me of all these headstones with “19–” etched into them and now only seven months to make good on it. A little permutation on the Y2K problem.

What to do with all these flowers, I wonder (I will keep the ribbon: “Loving Husband” “Loving Father”). The succulent reds and yellows of the spray we left for you are now as nondescript as the washed-out brittle pages of old books, the blossoms being in mid-transformation to the dust whence they came. Which is only right. Why should they survive and you not?

Cemeteries are time warps, I have always felt. Just a quarter mile off the main road, but a pocket of eternity unto itself, the murmuring of oaks the only sound perennial music of the house of mourning.

But for a train that breaks the stillness at 20-minute intervals. Your brother quipped to the grave man that you’d feel right at home here since a railroad slices through our own backyard. It was the first time anyone chuckled in four months.

At the memorial service I told them about the little boy in Chonju in 1962 (I hope that’s ok), who crossed out all the multiple choices and penciled in, “All the above are wrong: man is not evolved from any kind of animal.” You scrubbed the latrine after school for your contumacy, and your Mom was proud.

God’s economy is strange. I would never remove a creature so fine, so before the time. (There’s a giant hole in the universe now.) But I am a catechized lady and I know: He it is who fills the shuttle, who plies the loom, and has a billion strands to weave into His tapestry. Here are Rachel and Leah on one level, conniving and competing for Jacob’s love. And when the smoke clears, here is God on another level, with 12 tribes of Israel all in a row. He is building His kingdom, I know it in my head.

This is the first scribbling of mine that will not fall under your discerning eye. Some distance from here a mason is busy inscribing my name next to yours, by my command. Give me a good reason why I should bother to leave here at all before keeping that rendezvous.

The shadows lengthen, I cannot stay. Next time we meet, no tears, no night. On either side of the river, a tree of life with healing leaves. Maranatha.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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2 comments on Andrée Seu Peterson: An hour at evening

  1. Joaquin Fernandez says:

    This is simply some of the most beautiful words I’ve heard in a long while, outside of God’s word. One of the many reasons I listen to the podcast every day.

  2. Andrée Seu Peterson,

    Thank you for your words. They reach me, in a soft but piercing way. I know grief, it is a world apart, a grace, a strange thing to endure and be changed by. Thank you.
    -Elizabeth de Barros

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