A Great Friend I Never Met

A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene Peterson, Translator of The Message  -     By: Winn Collier

The book, “The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson: A Burning In My Bones,” by Winn Collier, came today. I just now finished reading the preface, gazed at the map, buzzed through the contents, and read the introduction. Haven’t even read the first page of the first chapter of Part One and tears already fill my eyes. Why?
I never met Eugene Peterson but for seventeen years, a group of women got together weekly at 6 A.M. to read and pray through the Psalms, and Eugene joined us there — in a way. Each week we read one psalm in the NIV, or KJV, or NESV, and then we read the same psalm in The Message, the paraphrase of the Bible written by Peterson. What happened next around that kitchen table was up to the Holy Spirit. It was always unpredictable, surprising, and lively. The room was filled with worship, prayer, singing, meditation, discussion. We wept, laughed, got angry, questioned, rejoiced, and very often one of us would say, “Would you read that section in The Message again, please?” We loved the perspective Eugene Peterson brought to our time in the psalms. His rendering of the psalter gave us great delight and plenty of fodder for deep reflection.
After 17 years of weekly fellowship around a table, Bible at the center, coffee cup in hand at the crack of dawn, we women came to know one another pretty well. I felt like I knew Eugene Peterson, too — his tempo, his imagery, his heart. I mourned deeply when he died in October, 2018. I reminisced about the early morning coffee, conversation, prayer and scripture we had “shared” for almost two decades. I was going to miss him. And yet, it was a great comfort to know that even though he himself might be gone from us, The Message he wrote for us was still here.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to get to know Eugene Peterson better through Winn Collier’s biography, “A Burning In My Bones.” Reading will begin tomorrow morning. The coffee will be ready by 6 A.M., if you care to join us.

4 thoughts on “A Great Friend I Never Met

  1. Teri, I just finished A Burning in my Bones a couple of weeks ago. I loved reading about this friend we got to know during those early morning prayer times. Thank you for this beautiful post!!!

    • Thank you, Terri. As one who opened your home so often to the Dawn Prayer group, I am glad that you also savored reading about our friend, Eugene!
      This blog post was taken from a piece I wrote for some friends on another website just after the book arrived back in February (?). I hadn’t anticipated such a strong emotional reaction to a quick overview of the book and had to think about why that would happen. When the explanation finally revealed itself, I wrote the post. I hope we can chat about A Burning in My Bones the next time we meet.

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