I’m a lover of life. A glass-is-half-full girl. A believer in ideals. But life can be really, really hard. And if it’s not hard for me at the moment, chances are, it is for one (or many) of those close to me. Over time, I’ve had the honor of walking with folks who were navigating through some treacherous territory. They didn’t see it coming, and weren’t sure they’d be able to find the way out. I’ve been there a time or two. And I bet, so have you. Thank goodness we’re all here to stumble, sprint, roam, crawl, dance, climb, skip, limp and wade through life together.
In returning from my weekend at Hutchmoot, I’ve been pondering how and what to report back to those who’ve graciously shown interest. This is my attempt. For starters, it may be helpful to address the etymology of the name.
Hutch – n. A coop for the housing of small animals, especially rabbits.
Moot – n. An ancient English meeting, especially a meeting of the free men of a shire. v. To discuss
Hutchmoot is the convening of 100ish music, art, Lewis and Tolkien-loving folks, many who have met virtually in the Rabbit Room. Hutchmoot is more of a family gathering than a conference. It offers community rather than instruction. Its intent is to inspire and enjoy rather than to equip.
Upon returning from my weekend away, our family resumed reading Dangerous Journey, which is a beautifully illustrated retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress. The story begins by introducing Christian, who carries a heavy burden upon his back. He works with it. He sleeps with it. He can find no relief. In an effort escape from certain doom, Christian embarks upon an odyssey of discovery that leads him through great peril, uncertainty, and pivotal choices. During his travels, he meets a variety of fellow-travelers. Some of them, such as Obstinate, Pliable, Worldly Wiseman and Mr. Legality offer a plethora of counsel to Christian. Their counsel, however, is unhelpful at best and near-fatal at worst.
Others join Christian and impact his journey in quite a different way. Evangelist points him in the right direction. The Interpreter helps him gain understanding. Faithful, who has fought quite different battles from those Christian experienced, offers encouragement and fellowship along the way.
Although the characters are prototypical, I can see myself in each on any given day. At times, I offer hope, encouragement and companionship to those who are struggling. At others, I’m presumptuous, hypocritical, timid, and not particularly helpful in encouraging my fellow-travelers to persist and press on in the right direction. As the years go by, my hope is to become a better travel companion.
My time in Nashville was a sweet reminder that we’re not left alone on this unpredictable journey of life. Those I met did not have names like Evangelist, Faithful, or Goodwill, yet they gave me great gifts of encouragement, community, and hope. Here are few glimpses of our encounters along the road:
~ Pete Peterson – Affirmed that just as God created in His own image, we create from our own personal stories. Although flawed, we are born to create. That which we create has dignity, and reflects the hope and the truth of the gospel.
~ Jonathan Rogers – Encouraged us to spend time considering our story… those moments, years, and decades in life that make up our personal history. Within each of our lives can be found the story of redemption. Not just in the few dramatic, life-altering scenes, yet more often in the details of the mundane. Pay attention. Take note.
~ Ben Shive – Challenged us to look for stories of redemption in unlikely places. Although that may not have been his end-goal, it was certainly a by-product of his recounting the life and works of Brian Wilson. Who “woulda thunk” that his music is complex and innovative, or that redemption can be seen in the story of his life. Not in a renewal of Wilson’s strength and vigor, but in the kindness of those surrounding him when he finally reached the end of his proverbial rope. Listening to the Beach Boys will never be the same. And hopefully, neither will listening to the stories of folks whose paths intersect with mine. I want to listen without presumption, but with anticipation and curiosity.
~ Russ Ramsey and Justin Gerard – Illuminated the connection between the art of the masters and the Master himself. By becoming apprentices of the great artists – studying their lives, technique, style and artwork, we can gain glimpses of the Kingdom from a new and fresh vantage point. Gerard, who is an amazing artist and illustrator, conveyed, “I can’t write like Tolkien, but I can reflect what he’s done with my own art.” There’s a sermon or two for us all in that statement alone.
~ Sally Lloyd-Jones – Inspired us to believe in the power of language and story, and to fall more deeply in love with The Great Story. “A story can do much more than teach, it can transform you. It works secretly,” she shared. Trust the story to do the work. Don’t feel like we we have to push morals. I’m still mulling over the implications of that one. With her humble, winsome, and delightfully British accent, Sally treated us to a lovely storybook time, which could have rivaled that of the Darling children in Peter Pan. She then narrated the story of her own life, complete with a few significant plot twists, compliments of the Author. She inscribed my daughter’s Jesus Storybook Bible with the following, “Caroline, This is your story.” And it’s mine. And it’s yours, too.
~ Andrew Peterson – Reminded us all to Whom we belong. We are the beloved. We are made in His image. And we create as a response. He also reminded us that we have not been left to journey through life alone. The weekend served as a living testimony that the Kingdom is not only in the future – we’ve been given a taste of it here on earth. In all of creation. In music, art, literature, laughter, kindness, compassion, and yes, in each other.
As I continue to distill all that I experienced over the weekend in Nashville, perhaps the most lasting impression that will mark my soul was the gathering of 100 relative strangers, who because of the great love for their Father, became family. We were given a glimpse of what will take place one day, when we are all finally gathered together “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages”…