Jan Peterson: Memory Eternal

One of my truest joys over the past few years was to be invited into deeper friendship with Janice and Eugene Peterson. Sitting with them for hours and days, fumbling through pictures, driving the streets of Kalispell as they pointed out the places that made up a lifetime, sitting on their back deck basking in the blue expanse of the Flathead and the rugged line of the Swan and Mission Range. And there were so many hugs. To be welcomed into their home was truly to be welcomed into grace.

In the morning, I’d often come downstairs, finding Jan at the stove making oatmeal, Eugene opening the milk and pouring berries and nuts into bowls as toppings. Eugene told me that what he loved most about these latter years, the years where he was no longer traveling and his writing faded to the background, was how he was finally able to show Jan, in new ways, the depths of his love and devotion. And there he was, following Jan’s instructions about whether this was a day for blueberries or raspberries.

During a couple of my visits, their dishwasher was on the blitz. Jan protested (at least the first 4 or 5 times), but I snagged my job, washing and drying the dishes after each meal. I did have a chance to cook a meal or two for them (including my famous Texas chili), but my assigned duty was to grab dirty plates and silverware off the table, throw the towel over my shoulder and get busy. It felt appropriate, immersed in a holy space saturated with God and rhythms of prayer and hospitality, that I would do monk’s work. It’s the kind of work Jan and Eugene did every day.

We love you, Jan. Memory eternal.