Welcome to the Rabbit Room

By

Two years ago I walked the streets of Oxford with my wife. We were in London for a few days during the final throes of Spring and took the train to the famously literary town to visit, among other things, the former home of C.S. Lewis.

It’s a two-story brick house called the Kilns, in what used to be the outskirts of Oxford and is now buffeted by subdivisions. Fifty or sixty years ago Lewis sat upstairs at the Kilns and wrote, or he strolled around the pond behind the house smoking his pipe; now college students live in the house and the pond is littered with old tires and oil bottles.

Not far from his house is a picturesque Anglican church building made of hewn stone and tucked in a quiet hollow of Oxford. We walked through the old empty building where Lewis and his brother used to sit through the homily until five minutes before the end of the service, at which time they would sneak out the back door to beat the lunch rush at the pub down the street.

Behind the church is the cemetery where Lewis is buried. My wife and I stood at his grave feeling the peace of the place: the long-haired cows tearing grass from the hill visible through leafy bowers, the sun pushing through gray English skies as soft and easy as a yawn, the green of new grass well-kept. As hokey as it sounds, I felt like we were in the Shire, and I suppose that in a way that’s exactly where we were.

The tour ended at the Eagle and Child, the pub where the Inklings often met for beer, friendship, and the sharing of their latest writings. I dragged my wife inside and promptly ordered fish and chips at the table where Tolkien, Lewis, his brother Warren, Charles Williams, and others once enjoyed one another’s company. I felt bashful and self-conscious about going so far out of my way (with my patient wife in tow) to visit these places. What did I expect to find there? I’m not sure what’s so fascinating to me about these men and their works, their approach to creativity and their understanding of the source of it all. Their brilliance was remarkable; they were Christians, intellectuals, and yet childlike enough to love stories and seek fellowship in their making.

London itself was a wellspring of inspiration for me. We strolled through Kensington Gardens where Peter Pan was born, ate still more fish and chips in pubs that had welcomed travelers for four hundred years, I thought about Robin Hood, George MacDonald, Harry Potter, King Arthur, and Shakespeare. And of course, I thought about the gospel. History breathes in London, seeps through the cobbles and like mist it rises from the Thames. It’s easy to see why so many beloved stories have sprung from England’s imagination.

History swept me up when I walked beneath the portcullis of the Tower of London, when I took communion in Westminster Abbey among the tombs of long-dead kings. The blood and body of Christ, shed for you, peasants and kings, pagans and priests. The feast at the table is good and gives life, and is your only hope for meaning and peace and rest from the baying of the hounds at your heels, because Death and Sin and Hatred pursue you and would swallow you up if not for the strong voice of Jesus saying “Peace. Be still.” And at his word the dogs snap back into the darkness with a yelp as if reaching the limit of their chains. History belittles us. Its story is one of conquest and murder and vast darkness, and the noblest of men ends up as dead as the thief. I realized as I walked through the hall of kings in the Abbey that my time here is brief and my earthly crowns are worthless as chaff; the words of my epitaph will ring hollow lest they point to the fullness of Christ.

Which brings me back to Oxford. Ron, our tour guide, told us that he once asked a hundred people on the streets of Oxford who C.S. Lewis was and none could tell him. None. A few wrinkled their eyebrows and asked if he was “that Alice in Wonderland” guy. He told us that when he started giving the tours of Lewis’s time at Oxford, his tomb was overgrown and covered with mildew, its words barely legible. But for a relative handful of people (most of them Americans) who know about Aslan and the Deep Magic and the High Countries, the world knows little about Lewis and lauds him not. But the marks this man’s stories left on my soul–the gospel in his stories–are deep and lasting and I believe I’ll one day show them to him.

I believe strongly in the value of the artists in this world. I believe that when someone who was made to strive to create beauty in the world is, as Brennan Manning said, “ambushed by Jesus,” the art that results bears a God-given power that draws men to Christ. I have encountered that power in the sub-creations of Christ-followers countless times. (I’ve also encountered it in the works of those who haven’t yet succumbed to the source of their gifting.) Those works of art have helped me to better understand the Bible and its author, they have given me the tools with which to worship, to serve, to revel in the greatness of the Maker.

Those works of art are the fruit of obedience to the artist’s calling. The burden God places on each of us is to become who we are meant to be. We are most fully ourselves when Christ most fully lives in us and through us; the mother shines brightest with her child in her arms, the father when he forgives his wandering son, and the artist when he or she is drawing attention to grace by showing the pinprick of light overcoming the darkness in the painting or the story or the song.

The world knows darkness. Christ came into the world to show us light. I have seen it, have been blinded by it, invaded by it, and I will tell its story. I cannot help but see that story everywhere I look. I see it when I am full of joy and weightless as a cloud, and I see it when grief and self-loathing root me to the cold earth; it is remembering the story, Christ whispering it in my ear, that kills the despair, sets me gently on the donkey, and takes me to an inn to recover from the wounds. How can I keep myself from singing?

The Rabbit Room is a place for stories. For artists who believe in the power of old tales, tales as old as the earth itself, who find hope in them and beauty in the shadows and in the light and in the source of the light.

After my fish and chips in the back room of the Eagle and Child, I noticed a paper sign attached to the gable. On it was written the name of the little room where the Inklings met: the Rabbit Room. I don’t know why it was called that. There was no explanation to be found. But the name struck me, stuck with me, and grew into this website. Here you’ll find writings and reviews by artists and appreciators of art, conversations about creation, storytelling, songwriting, and the long journey of becoming who we’re meant to be.

I also wanted to provide a place where you could support some of these artists and writers by purchasing from the Rabbit Room store (as opposed to some gargantuan bookseller). Sure, you may find the book or CD cheaper elsewhere, but here you’ll help sustain the ministry of some of these artists and writers, and you’ll be supporting this place where I hope you’ll come for support and sustenance of your own. The books and CDs for sale in the store each tell the old, old story in their way, and I believe that they have the potential to be a balm for you in your long journey.

So pull up a chair and join us. The fish and chips are fattening, but so, so good.

The Proprietor

The Warren, Nashville

Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


33 Comments

  1. Chris Hubbs

    Andrew, thanks for a beautiful post and a great idea for a website. A dozen posts in I am already quite sure it will become a favorite. Blessings on you and all the contributors!

  2. Blessedman

    I’m so looking forward to this part of the site…a refreshing of my soul by so many people. I thank you all in advance.

  3. Jason Band

    Hi Andy

    I’ve been a huge fan since ‘Carried Along’, so it was no surprise to learn that you were a fan of Mr. Lewis as well. I haven’t seen one of your shows yet, but to my knowlege you have not yet visited the twin cities area?

    I love the idea of this site, and I’m interested to see what it will become.

    If I may challenge the contributors, I would love to spark a discussion about the spiritual dimensions of the film, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’

    I’ll keep reading and commenting.

  4. Joel

    “The world knows darkness. Christ came into the world to show us light. I have seen it, have been blinded by it, invaded by it, and I will tell its story. I cannot help but see that story everywhere I look. I see it when I am full of joy and weightless as a cloud, and I see it when grief and self-loathing root me to the cold earth; it is remembering the story, Christ whispering it in my ear, that kills the despair, sets me gently on the donkey, and takes me to an inn to recover from the wounds. How can I keep myself from singing?”

    What a beautiful purpose, what a great mission for you and your music. Thanks for it and for your vivid portrayal of what it means to behold Christ.

  5. Profile photo of Jason Gray

    Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    wait a sec… does this mean this site isn’t about rabbits? 🙁

    Just kiddin’. Thanks for your hard work to make this little space for us. I remember reading an interview with Bill Mallonee of the Vigilantes of Love where he talked about how music to him is like forgiveness. I would extend that to books, film, and art in all it’s storied variations. increasingly they are like grace, like forgiveness to me.

    In the movie Shadowlands, a student proposes to Lewis that we read books to be reminded that we’re not alone. It seems to me that this will be the reason people will come to the rabbit room, too.

  6. Paul

    Five years ago I was working at a christian youth camp I heard a song one of the staff had that spoke right to my soul and cut right through everything of this world and left its mark on my heart. I had never heard of the song or the artist before, but I knew it had a beauty that was unparalleled in most of modern christian music. That song was “the silence of God”. Thank you Andrew for the sincerity and beauty of your music and ministry. Whenever Im discouraged or struggling I remember the first time I heard the silence of God and realize that there is still so much hope in this world. Thank you for that beautiful entry and reminding us about the hope of this world, and the heart and source of artistic expression, Jesus, life, beauty, and fellowship.

  7. Jim LaVere

    Hi Andrew,
    My family and I went to see you in St. Charles, MO last month. I am still totally amped from your performance, and cds have not left my car. My wife and I have been listening to you since Carried Along, when you sign my cds I apollogized for the condition of the case. You said “Thank you”. It did not click til a few mins later. I too am an artist of sorts. I teach now, Video/Web/Graphic Design.
    Your music is often heard in my classroom via iTunes and SmartBoard. I find your music to be inspiring and convicting. Each time we order your music, I have to really sit, concentrate and digest your work. Amazing.

    My wife and I have come to know the Lord about ten years ago. Since that time Christ has changed us so much, in every aspect of our lives. In that time he led us to listen to your music, I thank him and you for it.

    We anxiously await your next musical installment!

    God bless you and labors,

    In Christ,

    The LaVere family

  8. Robert McB

    There are few things as valuable, and as overlooked in our modern society, as the ablity to convey a good story, wheter thorugh a book, a song or a poem. I appluad the great works of the artists involved with the Rabbit Room and those they lift up for our edification.

    Jesus was clearly a master of storytelling – we call them parables. Beautiful in their simplicity and timeless in the application of the messages. Thanks for carrying on his example through this website.

    Already, you have greatly accomplished a worthy goal by stimulating me to think in new ways, to reach out and discover the insights of tremendously creative people.

  9. Natalie Anthony

    Can’t wait to see you at MBI again this week- my husband and I snuck into the Pastor’s conference this past summer…always an encouragement…I’m excited to have a little taste of Christian folk thrown into my Chicago autumn…I first fell in love with your music while living in WV. I know your concert will be a breath of fresh air…

  10. Joy Carren

    Andrew, This is good stuff. Thanks for the website.
    As an adult without Christ, I reached out to the arts. I knew they beckoned, they promised I would find Something … somehow, somewhere … But they circled in on themselves, a promise unfulfilled, breeding deep despair and a doubt of my own sanity.
    Jesus changed that. (And btw God used your Far Country CD to cut through my despair on a deep level.) Now what a joy it is to see Christian artists work in service of God and His Kingdom. It brings out the Hope of what is to come, the Promise, the Seal of which we’ve already received…

  11. ryan

    Thank You so much for being here! As an artist I get so tired of life with people who never understand what I’m trying to say, or what I want them to see… people who look at things so beautiful and profound and just “don’t get it”… It maks me happy when I find places like this where others see what I see! Thanks again!

  12. Profile photo of Curt McLey

    Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    Gaël Cosendai wrote:

    Would anybody know where I could find references to the artistry “sub-creation” concept? Is it from Brennan Manning? or Tolkien?

    You may be referring to a On Fairy-Stories which is an essay by J. R. R. Tolkien. It’s been published in other forms such as Tree and Leaf, as well as in The Tolkien Reader. The essay discusses the fairy-story as a literary form. There’s apparently a new book in which this essay appears as well, called Tolkien on Fairy-Stories by Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson.

  13. Jacob Luna

    Dear Mr. Proprietor,

    Your words and music have truly encouraged me. I’ve been a long time fan of both Lewis and Tolkien. The Lord has used their tales to reveal himself to me time and time again. It’s inspiring for me to hear that have impacted others in the same way. Not only that, but I wish to find more artists who strive to allow the beauty of the gospel to be displayed in their work. You seem to search, exhibit, and support such artists at the rabbit room. I’ve popped in every once in a while to check the posts, but reading your welcome has inspired me even more. You seem to have begun a fine establishment here. Thank you.

    Sincerely

  14. Elizabeth Averill

    Thank you for a site that reminds me that as artists, we are telling His Story – despite setbacks and difficulties! My husband and I are actor/writers who are moving to Scotland to teach and introduce theater that tells His Story.

    Blessings as we all go “higher up and deeper in” (The Last Battle)

  15. Sarita

    I read some articles from your site.
    And a new prayer stirs in my heart:
    That I may ‘succumb to the source of my gift (whatever it is), that I may be ambushed by Him.
    From deep within, I long to sit at a table at the Rabbit Room and quietly listen and drink deep of the stories. Yet Nashville and Mumbai are linked only by the internet.
    One day…
    Soon…

  16. Ennazus

    It’s amazing how impactful Lewis and Tolkien were–think, without the Gospel in their stories, their elephant-in-the-living-room writings would have been no more than mice. I love what you do, Andrew, and hope that the things you and the other Rabbit Roomers do will impact many hearts and souls, not by what you’ve done but by what He’s done.

  17. Laura

    Andrew: My family and I are huge fans of your music! It is our Christmas tradition to attend your Behold the Lamb of God concert each year in Nashville at the Ryman. What a powerful and meaningful time of worship it always is. While we have known and loved your music for several years now and have heard about this website at your concerts, I am just taking time to sit down and discover the Rabbit Room. It is a snowy/icy day here in middle Tennessee, but I feel completely warm inside after reading this introductory post. I feel as if I have missed out on a lot by not visiting the Rabbit Room before now, but I am so looking forward to the things I will discover here. Thank you!

  18. Perry

    WoW! I just found you, “by accident”….i.e. led by Jesus into The Rabbit Room. I felt I was the only one who saw and heard God’s fingerprints and footprints thus, through time, history, and His-stories. Silly of me, I know…but although my reason said ‘ it is not so, it can’t be’, my heart and feelings were saying otherwise.

    I recently moved to a small town, my daughter is my taker-of-care now, and even the only church in town churchgoers greet and welcome me as the dwarf in the Shire.: “Welcome!, but new and very different than us-who-have-lived-here-our-whole-lives” type of thing.

    I shall come often sit quietly and drink deeply, in the wit & wisdom & wonder of your most blessed Pub Room. I was in the Navy 10 years, and Army Reserve for 9 1/2 and found you by your Memorial Day tribute where you spoke of nights on the open ocean, I wondered about the site so I read of its creation….and found I had come home to a place I never knew existed, but sorely needed just now. Thank you for it’s creation, and eternal testament to Him.
    Signed: a weary traveler on the long road of life….Perry

  19. Hutchmoot!

    […] a trip to Oxford in 2005. He gives an eloquent account about his experience which you can find here. It is worth the reading. And this video catches the flavour of Hutchmoot beautifully. – […]

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