Andrée Seu Peterson: The living room

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, March 4th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Genuine Christian love can disarm doubters. Andree Seu Peterson tells us about the moment she glimpsed the truth.

ANDREE SEU PETERSON: Tucked into an endless commercial strip—a Dunkin’ Donuts, a smattering of real estate agents, an oversaturation of T-shirt stores, and other Cape Cod artifacts—was once an unprepossessing family residence. Unlikely danger. A divine ambush.

It was 1974 by the clock, the winding down of Nam. Five years after Woodstock and four years before Jim Jones’ Guyana.

That is to say, it was the last sputtering gasps of bell bottoms, of the omnipresent whiff of illegal substances, of unbounded terrible possibility.

He was an engineer by trade, she a raiser of children, five by biology, though it was hard to tell where her progeny left off and the rest of mankind began, as I observed the comings and goings in their house.

I suspect it was her idea, Marge’s, this mad experiment, this hair-brained scheme, as anyone could have told you. For this was Satan’s turf, Main Street, Hyannis; and even I, no babe in the woods, upon seeing it at night, flashed back to that scariest of childhood memories: Pinocchio riding into Pleasure Island.

The shingle over the door boasted too much—and not enough: “The Living Room,” it said. And it may have added underneath, “a coffee house.” In truth it was a few throw pillows and a small coffee machine, Tetley tea in styrofoam cups, and the promise of words of life; and was indeed the Magnusons’ living room.

They stumbled in off the street unawares, tie-dyed, stringy-haired twenty-somethings, not sensing God’s trap, not knowing of their date with destiny. Some turning their heels at once, others, inexplicably even to themselves, deciding to stay. I, ever on the fringe, and making myself small in a corner, watched night after night.

I had followed the young man from Switzerland to this glorified sandbar, having nothing better to do with my life at the end of the 20th century, and already disbelieving for joy (Luke 24:41), though not letting on, scoffer and mocker that I was.

I had insisted on proofs, on my terms, but got back such kinds that transcend logic and made my arsenal of argumentation look like toys in a boy’s nursery. I was caught off balance by love, wisdom, some fearful power.

In the years after The Living Room I forgot about it pretty much, went my way, took a few wrong forks in the road, suffered some—and not for righteousness.

But in this late summer of my life it comes to me again on a gust of memory, the place where I first saw something like two halves of a circle matching up, something making sense. What I most recall is Marge standing in her doorway that first day, beaming at a stranger not smiling back.

“…the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more” (Psalm 103:16).

So let it be—with men and houses all. But be it known that for its brief appointed hour there was a net for catching men, and a tree where the birds of the air came and perched, and whose branches pointed upward, ever upward, and beyond.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

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