Hutchmoot: Reflections on Community

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As I write this, Taya and I are on our flight home from Hutchmoot 2010, set to arrive just in time for our twin boy’s birthday party. The Hutchmoot was delightful!

We feel so privileged and grateful to have been a part of it and for all the people who came from all over the country to participate in the weekend. Our only regret is our exhaustion that made it difficult for us to be as present as we would like to have been (this weekend was the last stretch of a marathon summer schedule, and Taya and I remarked that we can’t remember a time when we felt more exhausted than this week). I wish I could have given more of myself, and for all of those I wish I could have been more present for, I do apologize. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. (Taya just said to me, “I’m afraid I may have disappointed just about everyone at the Hutchmoot. I was just too tired to have a conversation with anybody.”)img_00941

But in spite of that we met some wonderful people and enjoyed our conversations, though too brief.

In preparation for the Hutchmoot, I kept trying to think of what we were aiming for. What were we gathering around? The Rabbit Room is such a varied place it was hard to say–were we gathering around the arts? Books? Music? Storytelling? Cultural commentary? Jesus? Yes on all counts, I’m sure, but as we gathered to pray for the weekend on Friday, the larger answer began to emerge for me. I think for all of our talk about music, stories, and whatever else it is that Rabbit Roomers are inclined to talk about, we were gathering around Christ centered, story focused community.

Maybe that was clear to everyone else all along, but I’m often late to the party on these kinds of things. During the song-writing session, when someone asked about how to replicate the kind of community that they perceived we on the panel shared, it was nearly all I could do to swallow the lump in my throat. I recognized the longing in that question, the longing to belong, to have friendships that bring you life, that remind you of who you are, of who God created you to be, that invite you to set aside your masks and be known.

I had given up on this long ago, having failed to find it time and time again, experiencing disappointment and often hurt every time I entrusted myself to another person in my continuing misadventures in seeking community. And yet here I was.

It occurred to me to think of how the bond we shared as the people on that panel looks different to me now on the inside than it used to on the outside. Less the romantic idealization I might have made of it at one time, and yet all the richer for that, I think. At one time I sat on the outside looking at these very people I was now on stage with, wishing I could have what it seemed like they had. And then somehow, over time, without hoping or asking for it, one day I found myself there on the stage with them, talking about our shared passions at a thing called a Hutchmoot: Randall Goodgame seated on my right, singing his new Christmas camel song in my ear moments before the panel started because it was bursting to come out of him and he just couldn’t keep it to himself; Andy Gullahorn seated on my left, conspiring with me to whisper sophomoric color commentary to each other while other panel members addressed the audience; my good friend Andrew Peterson at the end of the table asking me to share a story of a moment we shared together in an art museum. He cried when he greeted Taya and me upon our arrival on Friday, which was perhaps the greatest gift of the weekend for me.

“What am I doing up here?” I’m thinking to myself, counting my lucky stars. “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places,” the psalmist says. Yes, yes. Amen.

How did I get there? I’m certainly convinced that it’s not because of my credentials. I have to resist the fear of being discovered as an imposter most of the time when I’m with these people. I’m delighted to discover that most (if not all) of them feel the same way. It’s good to feel lucky, to feel blessed.

Russ Ramsey, one of the rabbit room community members of the pastoral variety (I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d like to see a preach-off between him and Thomas McKenzie, followed by a one-minute review assessment of how it went) invited us to his church that Sunday morning, and he shared a sermon about community, with communion that we the congregants served each other afterwards.

It was Taya who called my attention to the personal significance of this moment. We were seated with friends from the Hutchmoot that consisted of Elsa, a friend from Minnesota who has known our family for 13 years; Breann, who we met on tour a couple years ago and has become a friend; and Evie and Whit, friends who represent the artistic community we have in Nashville. The different communities of our home, our ministry, and our passion all converged as we walked to the front, knelt down, and shared the body and blood of Christ, broken for us.

What does it mean? I’m tempted to try and extract some applicable take-away from the moment, but am grateful to find that I’m unable to reduce it that way. It is blessedly enough to say the moment was pregnant with ineffable meaning. It was a grace.

The text Russ preached on was the closing verses of Colossians, a passage dealing with greetings and personal instructions for the community of believers in Colossi. A seemingly irrelevant portion of scripture came alive that morning as Russ helped us see the beauty of it, which of course is the fact that it reveals that theirs wasn’t a romantic idealization of community, but instead a messy, organic, community rich with conflict and humanity.

One by one Russ went through the names Paul lists at the closing of this epistle: Tychicus, Epaphrus, Demas, Mark, Luke…names that remind us that the holy scriptures were human documents first, letters lovingly written to friends, not unlike the way I write to you now. By asking us to pay attention to these names Russ showed us how they help us see what it means to be in community with others.

What Paul writes at the end of Colossians 4 reminds us that these letters were written to real people with names like we have names, histories like we have histories, and who loved each other as much as they failed each other. There’s Philemon whose house is where the fledgling church gathered to meet, Russ told us. Some time before, his slave Onesimus had stolen from him and hightailed it to the big city. While on the lam, Onesimus ran into Paul, became a follower of Christ, and now Paul has sent him back to his master with two letters in hand: one for the church, and one especially for Philemon himself, appealing to him to forgive Onesimus, “who has become like a son to me,” Paul says, and to receive him no longer as a slave, but as a brother in the Lord.

Russ imagined for us the awkward moment: the knock on the door of the church at Colossi, the door of Philemon’s house, and who would have answered the door but perhaps Philemon himself (with no one else to answer the door since his servant ran off, Taya suggests)? And who is standing there with two letters in his hands but the wayward Onesimus? And all of a sudden this brief book of the Holy Bible becomes earthy, taking on flesh, becoming part of the larger story of the human drama of betrayal and forgiveness. As my friend Eric Peters said in our session together, this human context takes the text “off the mantel and brings it down to earth.”

And then there are the names that represent their relationship to Paul–messy relationships that tell the tale of the joys and heartbreak of entrusting your heart to others in community. As much as I am tempted right now to recite the major insights of Russ’s sermon for you so you might partake of the richness of the image of community that he painted for us, I know this post is too long as it is. Perhaps we could entice Russ himself to share these thoughts with us in the form of a post? Russ, what do you say? Are you out there?

The point, to me anyway, is that community is messy and wrought with human drama: betrayal, joy, disappointment, and forgiveness. Real community will never be the romantic idealization that I’d like to make of it. In other words, it’s not for sissies. Few could blame you for saying to hell with the whole affair and holing up in a shack in Montana. It’s all too risky, with too much potential for pain and disappointment.

And yet we long for it, all of us, because we were created for it: a place to belong, a people to belong to, a chance to be named at the end of somebody’s epistle, for good or ill.

And that’s why we gathered at the Hutchmoot, I think. Sure, it’s fun to talk books, music, and listen to the brothers Peterson make nerdy Tolkien references every chance they can. But I suspect that it’s for the longing of a place to belong that we all gathered, myself included.

To the question that the man asked the song panel regarding finding community, I never felt like we offered a, well, satisfying answer. But Andy Osenga came closest I think when he said that it was all about keeping our hearts open to the kind of community that might present itself to us. Maybe it’s people in our church or down our street–we just have to try to hang out with them and see what happens. It’s an ambiguous and unsatisfying answer, but the truth often feels that way. At least at first blush.

Keeping your heart open to the community that presents itself to you. Maybe that means that beggars can’t be choosy, and who among us doesn’t feel like a poor beggar in this regard? Maybe part of it means that we need to do the hard work of valuing those currently around us that the Lord has already presented instead of wishing for more “suitable” candidates. Maybe it means making the best of a messy, less than ideal situation. You know, like Paul had to, and Philemon, and even Jesus.

“On the night he was betrayed,” Russ began as he introduced communion–those familiar words from the holy text–“Jesus took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’”

And then all of a sudden, there they were: the lump in the throat, the tears gathering at the corners of my eyes–those blessed signposts that alert me to pay attention, because something holy is asking to be recognized.

And then I saw him, Jesus, there in the upper room giving to his disciples, and to all disciples ever after, the communion table–the greatest symbol of community in all of human history–a place to come, gather, and share in common our need for the body and blood broken and given for us. Not just for me, but for us, the community–ourselves broken and bloodied, if by nothing else than by the hands of others in the community who have betrayed us or broken our hearts.

And when did Jesus do this? On the night he was betrayed. There he is, knowing full well Judas was soon to betray him to a grisly execution and that within hours these his friends would all abandon him. Yet he holds nothing back in self preservation, giving his feckless friends then and since the grace of community–the means to come, gather, and share our humanity in common: the gift of a meal together. Come. Take. Eat. Drink. It is at once the holiest and most human of moments.

It is an act of superhuman generosity on Jesus’ part. I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have done it. Jaded, bitter, hurt, I would have withheld community, passive aggressively punishing them for how I knew they were going to break my heart. I know this because this is what I always do. This is my broken way of circling the wagons and protecting myself. But to keep my heart open to the community that presents itself–imperfect and messy as that might be–is at least part of what it means to have community, isn’t it.

“His body broken for you” we said to each other as we knelt and served communion to each other. But it must have been His heart that was broken first. And so it was with a broken heart that Jesus showed us how to make community with each other.

I think now of all my failed attempts at community, the loneliness over the years of feeling misunderstood by those around me, how it made me circumspect and inward, how at times I even rejected the community that presented itself to me for fear of being rejected.

I wrote a chorus recently that challenges me to “bring my heart / to every day / and run the risk of loving completely without running away…”

I think this is what community–wherever we may find it–requires of us. “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said as he presented himself to the community that was present to him.

Understanding that this is part of the daunting task of being in community makes the ease by which we all gathered together and enjoyed each other’s company at the Hutchmoot an even richer delight, don’t you think?

Hutchmoot 2011 anyone?


45 Comments

  1. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I really wished to be able to talk with you more than the two seconds I did, but thanks for coming to Hutchmoot in your exhaustion and also thanks for sharing on the Buechner panel and for sharing your songs.

    Tears streamed down my face as I read this post because I find in it exactly what I long for, just as I was not at all surprised by the panel question. And at Hutchmoot so many of us felt welcomed a little bit, to share in this beautiful community you all have.

    And yeah real community is messy, but wow do I miss it. I’ll do as you say and try to keep my heart open and love fearlessly. Thanks for this post.

    (and on a side note, I’ve always loved that Cindy Morgan song about the Last Supper because it always evoked in me all of the bittersweet feelings of what that night must have been like)

  2. Cherie Heringer

    Well put Jason. I think you articulate well what most of us feel but cannot or will not share about opening up ourselves one-on-one. You and Taya brought music, lyrics, book reviews and ideas, cd’s – I brought my purse! And bought! I found myself among people not far removed from myself, who had had the tenacity and courage to put pen to paper and even get published. Something I’ve aspired to do and have not made or had time to do. Yet, I was inspired. Inspired to nest a bit among the rabbits and join in the community of messiness. I suppose we all have our ways if coping – and you and Taya have had good reason for exhaustion – but rest assured there was a lot of you and Taya on those tables out front and in the music that was sung and speakers who spoke. Thanks for the post – it summarized a great deal of my thoughts on the “moot” as well. And who knows – there might be a few more artists from our own burrough next year…

  3. MargaretW

    @ Amy – I was in tears too. This is exactly why I came to the gathering, a longing for community. I have been missing it due to scars that cover my own heart. It was so great to be standing with you for the 2 seconds we met Jason.

    Jason, thank you for the encouragement to keep trying. Not only do I need to hear it, I’m going to take this advice to heart. Thank you for sharing at Hutchmoot with all of us broken and fragile souls. I love that as a community we can pour ourselves out, even when we are exhausted, and Christ continues to fill us up.

  4. Mindy

    Thank you for this wonderful entry, Jason! I really wish I would have been at Hutchmoot this year. I’m hoping for next year if plans work out!

  5. Matt

    Excellent Post. I would like to add as an addendum that it shouldn’t be any surprise that we have a deep longing for community. God himself is a community and made us to take part in that divine community of Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. From that community flows the whole story of history, from the veiled hints of it in creation (“Let us make man in our image”) to the prayers of Jesus about the relationship of the Father and Son (Matt 11) to the exhortations of Paul to Philemon. Taking part in the community is taking part in the divine prerogative.

  6. Kyle Keating

    Agreed Matt, it is who we are made to be as imago dei.

    Jason, great thoughts. I too was most impacted by the community aspect of the weekend amidst all the other great music, stories and food. For someone who is in transition to a new place like me, trying to find a new community to be part of, it certainly was encouraging to get to taste it this weekend. I felt privileged to be invited into this community, not just as an observer, but as a participant.

    Jason, I enjoyed getting to connect with you over Buechner, especially since I too have had a hard time convincing my more theologically-minded friends of the value of his work. I think maybe they would rather read a systematic theology than a story most of the time. Those nerdy Calvinists 😉 (I can say this, I am one, I go to Covenant Seminary). Looking forward to reading the memoirs too.

    Also, the last supper picture is priceless. I’m most impressed that everyone had some idea of what their corresponding figure’s poses were.

  7. Aaron Roughton

    Thanks for this post Jason. I’m still wiping my eyes. Lindi looked at me last night and said, “You know, Hutchmoot was a holy time.” I couldn’t agree more.

  8. Leanne

    Jason, thanks for these thoughts. My husband Dave and I loved the community that was Hutchmoot. Dave met you at the Buechner panel and loved chatting with you; I never actually “met” you but appreciated the warm smiles and openness I sensed in you as we’d pass in the crowded lobby.

    We have been blessed where we live (in San Diego) with a great community of three other couples, with whom we’ve met weekly since we were all newlyweds (13 years ago.) We’re raising our families together, we’re walking through life together. We feel “rare” because it seems not many people have this real, honest, ugly-at-times community to walk through this tough journey. I bring this up because it affirms Andy O’s response to the question. Keeping your heart open to the community that presents itself to you. I totally agree.

    The thing about our community is that, in a lot of ways, they don’t share our enthusiasm about all of the thoughtful, story-telling, Rabbit-Roomish brand of walking with Jesus. But they love us. And we love them. And when one of them is having marriage problems, we all talk about it openly. And when there is a new baby born, we’re there. And when there is a crisis of faith, we listen and pray. And we do an awful lot of laughing.

    So, I support Andy Osenga’s advice: keep your heart open to the community that presents itself to you. And to fill in the gaps of that community’s lack of interest in Frederick Buechner and George MacDonald, go to Hutchmoot. 🙂

  9. Matt Conner

    That last supper pose was just too funny. 🙂

    Great thoughts Jason. Appreciate your further reflection and weaving in Russ’ sermon with the weekend overall. It was nice to see you and meet your wife.

  10. S.D. Smith

    Jason. Right on. So absolutely beautifully said, brother. Sam likes, likes, LOVES this.

    Of all the satisfying elements to this weekend, which were manifold and rare-in-life, the one thing I left wishing had been better articulated was what you just hit. That artistic community is a deep joy and I long for that so much. But God has provided brothers and sisters for us wherever we are. They might be plumbers. They might be politicians, or, theologians (heaven forbid) who are puzzled at Buechner :).

    We need DIFFERENT kinds of people in the community of faith. Paul crushes the idea homogeneity in 1 Cor 12 (v12 and on). We have one faith, one Lord, but we are very different and our callings are different. Oh, the boredom of everyone being the same! How I hate it. We are different. Some are high, some are low, some are rich, some are poor, some are songwriters and some are waiters. Some need special modesty, some are mouths, some are ears, hands, etc. Some speak, sing, and some serve silently. This is not bad. Yay for difference.

    I wanted to, and still may, do a post on this subject. But you have said so much and said it so well, Jason. Thanks.

    It’s a privilege to be in community with you, a great artist, as well as my dear friend who runs a stumpgrinder.

  11. Cindy K.

    Thank you for this post. I couldn’t help but think what an earth shaking time Hutchmoot would’ve been for me. I love this post…in so many ways. As we look for healing and growth w/ God at our church here in Nebraska…I know we’re on the right track. So much spoke to me here….

  12. Laura B

    Indeed, thank you, Jason!

    One of my fears this summer as I looked forward to Hutchmoot was that I would be found an impostor. Thank you not only for your description of the Square Peg community as a place where people can still feel that fear, but also for your beautiful reminder that real fellowship with other Christians has so much to do with loving those God has put in our lives, no matter who they are or what they do.

    And I very much enjoyed your talk on Buechner on Saturday! Hope you guys are able to get some rest now.

  13. P

    Beautiful, Jason, just beautiful. And me, too, lump in throat and tears when you wrote “on the day He was betrayed.”

    On another subject, I smile every time I hear your song played on the radio!

  14. Laura Peterson

    Yes! Thanks, Jason. Keeping my heart open to the community that presents itself to me is my task, even as I am grateful for the unique community at Hutchmoot. I love that Hutchmoot reminded me that I can BE a story-ied, Rabbit Roomy kind of person even in my own community , and that when I need to be refreshed and reminded of the old, old Story, I can come hang out here. (And I echo S.D.’s thanks for the summary. I’m finding it difficult to describe Hutchmoot in one sentence, and that one is great.)

  15. JenniferT

    Thank you for articulating what so many of us obviously feel, Jason. In the last few days, I have been in a glow of gratitude — not only for the experience of Hutchmoot, but also for the larger truth it reminded me of, that God has put so many precious people in my life…that He knits us together in so many different ways, and that where two or more of His children are gathered together in His name, He has promised to be there among them.

  16. Sarah Clarkson

    @sarahclarkson

    Oh wow, thanks for this post. It’s truly beautiful.

    I came home from Hutchmoot downright humbled because of the kindness of the people I met. My response to hurt or lack of community in the past has been a defensive heart, closed off to the possibility of friendship. That bit you said about rejecting friendship out of fear of being rejected made me want to laugh… then cry… then laugh again.

    But what you said about Jesus’ heart being broken even before his body… wow. His heart proffered to all us broken people, ready to love even as he ached because the love is what is true and must be sought again and again, and that as the model of the fellowship to which we are called… thank you for writing that! That is exactly the sort of community that I tasted this past weekend and that is one of the greatest gifts of the time to me.

    And Hutchmoot 2011. Oh yeah.

  17. Breann

    Wow. Thank you for articulating so well what I felt this weekend. When the question was posed during the songwriting panel about how we get that kind of community, I felt that our collective heart’s desire was voiced. It struck me that community is something all our hearts crave. And I had a sweet moment of sharing this longing with Margaret who was sitting next to me. Russ’ sermon and the Communion that followed also deeply moved me. I don’t deserve to be a part of this great fellowship. But I’m so glad that I am.

  18. Kimberly

    This post has filled me with a longing to be with my church family tonight. What a special community I have found in those precious people. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  19. meredith

    Thank you for these thoughts. Being present to those around me, whoever they may be. Being willing to stand in my fear, to risk looking the broken fool that I am believing that the Redeemer is about fixing broken people and broken relationships. There is hope! It sounds as though Hutchmoot was a glimps into the community that we will one day live in forever…

    I guess as I write I am also struck by the fact that I can’t make this happen, but I can be open, I can aim to love in acceptance, and try to own my failure to do anything well. Only He can take messy relationships and make them beautiful! Again there is hope of community, of love, of acceptance. Hearing others say that it is hard and that it is a longing of their hearts is encouragement to me. Thanks again.

  20. Deb

    Thanks for this great piece Jason. I spent several years working for small group ministries in our church and trying to connect people in “community”…pretty much an impossible task especially when they would come with a very specific list of things that community for them must be…things like the group needed to meet within a two block radius of their home, on Tuesday nights, consist only of redheaded mothers of twins and want to study the book of Esther. (you might laugh, but some people were every bit that specific) I would suggest that with such a great vision they might wish to start such a group. They would become angry with me for my unwillingness to hand them exactly what wanted in relationships as if I were a vending machine. But they were unwilling to enter into the groups that were in existence – to as you said keeping their hearts open to the community that presented itself to them.

    In a way I was aggravated at them and in another way, I so identified and empathized with them because I too long for deep, rich relationships and a sense of belonging. We all have some idealistic view of what community “should” look like and we all want to be invited into those relationships instead of having to take the initiative to create them and invite others to join us. We somehow want the “right” people to find us and love us and invite us to join them…wow, that would be GREAT!

    But in the end God asks us to be the “right” people, love others and invite them to join us…

  21. evie

    Jason, dear brother (and Taya too, dear sister). So many responses to this beautifully spun piece of writing I could list, but the one that seems to trump the others is simply my similar gratitude for that tiny slice of Sunday morning we spent, knelt in our Father’s presence, serving one another that bread and that wine. The closeness, the comfort. Until He returns, halleluiah.

  22. redheadkate

    I keep going back to the Gonzo illustration – that we all felt like we were the only one, but in reality there are many more of us out there. It isn’t that all of us who attended Hutchmoot truly are the same, but more so that our differentness fits together is a special way…which creates community.

    Aren’t we all just looking for a place
    To find a spot shaped for me alone
    A sense of belonging
    A sense of being home
    Or am I truly the only one?

    Sometimes, somewhere it is revealed
    Like pictures set in the perfect frame
    Others who are like me
    Others just the same
    And I find I’m not the only one

  23. Tony Heringer

    Taya’s comment in “The Scandal of Grace” session Saturday morning was spot on and really brought some life to our conversation. Tired or not her words and the overall time with Russ “No Nickname…yet” Ramsey and Jonathon “Atticus” Rogers was sweet. I found this clip for Russ:

    Oddly none of these nicknames work for Russ, though Dry Gulch Slim or Hummingbird Saltalamacchia were close, but just not there. I will continue to try all the way to Hutchmoot 2011 or World Cup 2014 whichever one has more extra time or is that thyme? Evie? A little help.

    Now get some rest Jason and keep up those vocal exercises.

  24. Leanore

    Jason, thank you for your openness. This must be close to the heart of every artist. What point is there in creating music, or paintings, or fragments of thought like little pearls, if not to build bridges to other people? We offer it as a gift. But the gift is not always recognized, and sometimes it is misunderstood. And sometimes the community you’ve been part of simply crashes apart.

    That’s happened in my world, and recently. It has put me in a quiet place, where instead of my music I hear silence. Once in awhile I put a few words down to try to make sense of it, and forge a path into the future. It’s no accident that the Rabbit Room has already been a big part of the journey. You all have been a surrogate community to me, and a faithful one – inspiring, encouraging, telling me about the things that go on in my own head and heart, showing me grace for my journey.

    I discovered Jill Phillips’ song, A Lot Like Me. It offers another way to heal, and to reach out: sit and talk, and just listen. Something about the way she sings it makes me think this should be done over cookies.

    Thanks for the things you’ve written here, Jason. I like the way you write, even though – with apologies – I always think at first that your posts look too long. I never get bored. You start simply, and I’m drawn in to see where you might be going, and then I want to go to the same place.

    I didn’t get to go to Hutchmoot, but I read, I worship, I write a little, I make a little music. Maybe another year I can join all of you, but this year I’m loving these reflections.

  25. Susan

    “..the longing to belong, to have friendships that bring you life, that remind you of who you are, of who God created you to be, that invite you to set aside your masks and be known.”

    Had tears in my eyes reading the above. I couldn’t be at Hutchmoot (bring it to England one day, folks!) But, what I’ve read has encouraged me and took some of the loneliness away. These words particularly challenged me. “Keeping your heart open to the community that presents itself to you”.

    Appreciating ‘reading’ all the posts and comments about Hutchmoot. Reminds me of Lewis’ thoughts on books, ‘We read to know we are not alone”.

    Susan

  26. Tony Heringer

    Leanore, Jill and Andy played “A Lot Like Me” on Saturday night. I’m with you on its depth and call to go deeper with one another. The cookies don’t hurt that process either. 🙂

  27. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Leanore – thanks for your kind words. And you’re right! My posts are too long, I agree! I always envy those who are able to write short blogs. I’m working toward that goal… I think I wrote posts more like people would write a chapter…

    But thank you (and to everyone else who read the whole thing) for hanging in there with me while I try to learn the art of brevity 🙂

  28. Leanore

    Jason – Please don’t rush down the path to brevity. I get tired of sound-bite philosophizing. A songwriter who can distill a thought into a poetic rhythmic line, but also develop a thought in a deeper, more leisurely way that is ultimately very satisfying – I think you have a dual gift there.

  29. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jason, I’m just glad someone writes posts as long as mine. Good thoughts. The Hutchmoot was one of the best things I’ve been involved in.

    I found your cds in my bag – did you get one of mine? If not, send me an email with your address.

  30. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Ron! I did put my CDs in your bag while you were engaged in a conversation with somebody else, but then was never able to get back to you for yours before we had to leave. I would LOVE to get one of yours. I’ll send you my address…

    And Leanore – once again, you’re too kind.

  31. Pracades

    Looks like this post rang true for a lot of us…including me. Isn’t it ironic that so many of us long to commune with one another and yet we aren’t able to do it? Are our hearts so guarded? Is life too busy? Do we recognize the longing, and yet, like so many other things we find lacking in our lives, we fail to see the answers right before us simply because we are too self-absorbed?

    “Keeping your heart open to the community that presents itself to you. Maybe that means that beggars can’t be choosy, and who among us doesn’t feel like a poor beggar in this regard? Maybe part of it means that we need to do the hard work of valuing those currently around us that the Lord has already presented instead of wishing for more “suitable” candidates. Maybe it means making the best of a messy, less than ideal situation. You know, like Paul had to, and Philemon, and even Jesus.”

    This really hit me, maybe I’m trying too hard to find where I belong to realize that I am already right here! I just need to try harder to get to know the community of people that God has already given me access to.

    I’ve been reading “Mere Christianity” for the first time…I know, I know, what took me so long? I love the way Lewis describes Christian love. I think the easiest way to sum it is up is through an AP lyric that I often quote, “Love is not a feeling in your chest, it is bending down to wash another’s feet.” I have been working hard to apply this realization to my marriage, but I should also be applying it to my friends, family, neighbors, and really everyone I meet.
    Ask not what your community can do for you, ask what you can do for your community. As Jason said, Jesus was able to do it even within hours of being betrayed. He loved his disciples and found community and brotherhood among them even in their times of doubt and sin. Shouldn’t I be able to do the same for my brothers and sisters in Christ?

    Thanks, Jason for this eye opener.

  32. Susan D.

    Jason, I always enjoy reading your posts and walk away with much to ponder (as with many posts in RR). I did not attend, but I have gleaned so much from the reflections of all who were present. I’m predominantly a visual artist, and I don’t share the eloquence of many who comment. However, I do appreciate words and music that project truth and beauty and inspire my imagination. I keep coming back to the Rabbit Room, because the sentiments expressed make me feel as if I’m among friends. The type of friends that seem absent from my life right now. However, I’ve been contemplating and praying about the idea of community even before the Hutchmoot event and subsequent posts.

    “..maybe I’m trying too hard to find where I belong to realize that I am already right here! I just need to try harder to get to know the community of people that God has already given me access to.”

    Pracades, I share your thoughts and questions.

    Somehow I’ve been equally searching for community and pushing it away at the same time – with God and with those he’s placed around me, but I have a growing desire to dig in, to value and invest in those in my neighborhood and others who have already been placed in my path. Thank you to everyone for so willingly and openly sharing your thoughts and for being used to reinforce what God has been whispering to my heart.

    Meredith – your words struck a particular chord with me. Thanks!

  33. Leanore

    Tony, it must have been terrific to hear Jill and Andy sing “”A Lot LIke Me.” But by telling me that, you’ve only increased my “pain” and “godly jealousy” over missing this last weekend… 🙂 I had to settle for listening to my Counting Stars CD instead.

    Actually, I’m still thinking about this topic. It runs so deep. Maybe partly because we don’t make enough of our sit-and-talk opportunities – we’re all so geared to electronic interfaces, and rushing to the next thing that we’ve stuffed into our schedules. All that offers the potential for real community, but somebody has to decide to take it to another level. Therefore, the cookies – it’s a leverage thing. But so disarming. 🙂

  34. Tony Heringer

    Leanore,

    Until Jesus gets back I think all community will be bittersweet no matter how rich or poor the fellowship. I know that this post has affirmed the need for investing in our local communities even more. It has also convinced me that if I attend a Jill Phillips concert I’ll have to remember to bring the milk and cookies. 🙂

  35. Melissa

    Hi Jason and Taya,

    I want to thank you both for your posts, along with everyone else for the rabbit room. I’ll try and keep this short and sweet:

    I’m a twenty one year college student from Austin TX. I have been a Christian since I was a little kid, but only recently have I really begun to know my Maker and truly fall in love with Him. As I am growing in my relationship with Him I long so badly for community like you have talked about. From where I stand at the moment there seems like little community though I know if I step out and look for it I will find it.

    If you could, pray that I would have the courage and boldness to do this. I know this is something God wants me to seek, but I am struggling with my “fear of man” or rather fear of rejection as you put it.

    Thank you so much for your music, your words, your art, and the humanity and grace you allow in this “room” – all of you rabbit roomers. You have been a great blessing to my life. May God bless you with and extra measure of energy and inspiration in these last days of summer.

    Melissa
    Jn. 15:16

  36. Tony Heringer

    Melissa,

    Though it pains me as an Aggie to say so, there are some fine folks in Austin who also inhabit this place from time to time. I pray that you all connect and that you also connect with a local body of believers there. A good church home is vital for this present life.

  37. Douglas McKelvey

    Thanks, friend. Your post found me at a timely moment–though, for future reference, I would rather not be getting all misty in Starbucks. How about slapping an “emotional advisory” label on your posts as needed?

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