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A better ending

We don’t have to allow a what-can-be to become a what-might-have-been

A better ending

Andrée Seu Peterson's father and aunt (Andrée Seu Peterson)

The photo that accompanies this story is of my father and aunt. I sent it with this story because it is the last picture in the album before you close it and put it away, and you can see that it is a happy one.

For a long time I was sad because I thought the album was already finished, and that the final entries were the most miserable things in the world, and that I would have to live with that. There were the fairly happy childhood ones, of course, or at least how memory bathes all yellowed photos from the long-ago past, even the Depression era. There were the World War II soldier poses on the front lawn, and one of two brothers on a tractor, and a later Christmas gathering in the parlor with the whole clan present. But my father and aunt had not spoken for 20 years.

I don’t know about other family systems, but mine has been, as far back as I remember, a series of internal combustions followed by a swift realignment of factions of unstable elements. Even the buried hatchets are buried so shallow any dog can dig them up.

My cousin has been after me for years to visit and to bring my Dad, and more insistently than ever this summer since they put in her new gazillion-dollar deck. My father has often said he would never set foot in Rhode Island again, but a promise of my brother flying up from Florida sweetened the deal. I said nothing to Dad about his estranged sister; this would be a trip to see a niece.

The first day we sat on the deck and watched the Tour de France. The second day we went in the pool and watched the Tour de France. The third day we saw Newport, and watched the Tour de France. The next morning I woke up with the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer on my mind: Thy Name be glorified, Thy kingdom advance, Thy will be done—and the feeling that all three prayers lined up with a choice before us: Either we could continue our Rhode Island time in this worldly vein and then go home and have had a pleasant vacation, and never ever know what God could have done with a little courage. Or we could take a risk and storm the gates of hell.

We could continue in this vein and never know what God could have done, or we could take a risk and storm the gates of hell.

The four Pevensie children, whisked back into the Narnian world, make their way through woods in search of the refugee Prince Caspian. They use sound navigational reasons for the course they take, led by the boys, who have the better sense of direction. But Aslan appears to little Lucy and tells her to follow him. When she shares this epiphany with the others in the expedition party, they vote her down, and with bitter tears she falls in line behind them, as they proceed to get more and more lost. Aslan appears to her a second time, and there is this exchange:

“‘But it wasn’t my fault, was it?’ The Lion looked straight into her eyes. ‘… I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? … What would have been the good?’ Aslan said nothing. ‘You mean,’ said Lucy, rather faintly, ‘that it would have turned out all right—somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?’ ‘To know what would have happened, child?’ said Aslan. ‘No, nobody is ever told that.’ ‘O dear,’ said Lucy. ‘But anyone can find out what will happen,’ said Aslan. ‘If you go back to the others now and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me—what will happen? There is only one way of finding out” (Prince Caspian).

And so there was, indeed, only one way of finding out. Against a few voiced reservations we drove to my father’s sister’s home. The brother and sister embraced and wept, and I snapped this photo. For we may choose our adventure and a better ending, even now.

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  • RC
    Posted: Mon, 07/24/2017 02:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing the courage you and your cousin had to do the right thing with God’s word and Lucy’s words encouragement. (The Chronicals of Narnia are some of my favorite writings from C.S. Lewis)