A Toast to the New Year

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I wish I could go back in time and capture in stop motion the evolution of an idea. If I could, I would try to capture the formation of the Rabbit Room from its inception when it was not much more than an idea to the community it has now become.

I was fortunate to be one of the original contributors to this site. Back then, we were nothing more than a collection of untested writers—most of us anyway. But what we had in common was a love of art and a respect for the way it can serve as a hammer and chisel in the hands of God.

The blog began as a wood-paneled list of entries on subjects ranging from Lyle Lovett’s Road to Ensenada to an essay on self-righteousness told by way of a story about failing to recycle paint cans to a brilliant little piece A. S. Peterson wrote about pickles. We were taking some of our first swings at writing blog posts and finding our voices. I, for one, was awkward as a middle-schooler, all knees and elbows.

But the life really came, in my opinion, when people began to post comments. Redhead Kate, S. D. Smith, Dave Bruno, and a host of others pulled their chairs up to the table and joined in the conversation. We began to come to know each other a bit.

Occasionally we offended people, sure. This is the internet, after all. Much of the time we apologized civilly when we did. We fought to keep a spirit of peace, urging folks who wanted to debate online to go over to the zillion other sites that existed for that very purpose. We didn’t want the Rabbit Room to be a place for tearing down what we found wrong with the world. We wanted to tell each other about what we found to be true, beautiful, and rich.

The names on the masthead have changed some over the years, but this little experiment in forging a “virtual community” in the hope that it would become a real one, well, it happened.

Then came Hutchmoot, where many who had only typed little lines of text to each other met in person and embraced like old friends. Some of them fell in love and got married. (Now a host of mini-Moots continue to happen around the country.)

Somewhere in there Rabbit Room Press was born, bringing a precious few titles into the world, with names like Peterson, Shive, and now (gasp!) Wangerin Jr. on the spine.

Then came the Molehill—that esteemed anthology where the footnotes alone are worth the price of the book.

And The Local Show—a seasonal weekly offering where a variety of musicians gather at a coffee house and trade songs in the round.

Social media pages also crept in as more places where folks from this growing community have shared ideas, prayer requests, humor, and actual needs others in that community have been able to meet.

The Rabbit Room went live in 2007 (I believe)—almost eight years ago. A lot has changed. But I am very thankful for this community. I am thankful for all the folks who keep this thing going. I am thankful for the venue it has provided for me to begin to learn the craft and love of writing. I am thankful for the lives it has drawn together who would not have met otherwise (this is where I met some of my best friends in the world.) I am thankful for the promise of all that is to come.

This little venture has far exceeded anyone’s expectations. What can we expect but that the future will bring more of the same? May it be so by the grace of God.

So on the eve of the new year, I raise a glass to the Rabbit Room Community at large. May we be a place that welcomes people in. May we continue to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. And may our love for what is true and beautiful continue to deepen as our new friendships transform before us into sturdy old ones.

Hear, hear.

Profile photo of Russ Ramsey

Russ Ramsey and his wife and four children make their home in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church and the author of Struck: One Christian's Reflections on Encountering Death (IVP, 2017), Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative (Rabbit Room Press, 2011) and Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2015). He is a graduate of Taylor University (1991) and Covenant Theological Seminary (MDiv – 2000, ThM – 2003). Follow Russ on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.


33 Comments

  1. Lisa

    Hoisting my cup of tea with you, Russ. I am so thankful to have found this space. It has been such a relief to find others who are striving to make art, whether writing, music, or visual art, in a way that is not afraid of unanswered questions or interpretations. I’m not saying this very well, but I guess the best way I can say it is that this site has been the place where most often I have had that “What! You too?” moment described so well by C.S. Lewis. I’ve never had the pleasure of Hutchmoot, and would love to meet all of you there or pull up a seat at the Local Show, but I am so grateful for this little corner of the internet where I am consistenly challenged, delighted, and encouraged.

    Looking forward to all that 2015 has in store for all my fellow Rabbit Roomers, and the conversations we can have about it along the way.

    Bless you, and thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.

  2. redheadkate

    Russ gave me a bit of a George Bailey moment on behalf of the Rabbit Room. It is hard to picture life without it. So, so thankful for all the people who are a part of this great group.

  3. Heidi Johnston

    “We didn’t want the Rabbit Room to be a place for tearing down what we found wrong with the world. We wanted to tell each other about what we found to be true, beautiful, and rich.”
    This is one of the reasons I love the Rabbit Room so much!! Being part of this has been one of the big highlights of 2014 for me and I’m hoping 2015 will be the year I get to meet some of you face to face.

  4. Jessica Boniface

    I, too, will clink glasses in honor of the RR.

    I must ask about these mini-Moots that Mr. Ramsey mentioned – who? what? when? where? The why is obvious. (To quote Mr. McKay, “To celebrate the beauty of truth, the truth of beauty and the goodness of goodness.” /bliss) Where would one go to learn more of mini-Moots?

    Now…to go read an essay about pickles. Happy New Year, y’all! 😀

  5. Cara Strickland

    I am thankful for this community as well. It’s been a long time since a long-ago boyfriend introduced me to this site. I didn’t keep him, but I am so glad to have kept all of you. The writing road is often lonely, and you are good friends for the journey.

  6. Aaron Wolcott

    I came across the Rabbit Room while living overseas and it became (and still is) a beacon of light on dark days and remembrance of joy in a world that can seem so heartless at times.

    I raise my mug of tea on this cold night to Rabbit Room! Many blessings on those who keep it going.

  7. JamesDWitmer

    Hear, hear!

    Thanks, Russ, for this delightful tribute. I love this “place.”

    I raise my mug to the Rabbit Room, to its Founders, the Proprietor, and – as we do always – to the King.

  8. Laure Hittle

    ::cries:: i am so grateful for this place and you people. i’ve only been bumbling around here for the last year, but it has been a trajectory-changing year for me. My heart is full to overflowing at the idea of what might happen next. Last year i learned and grew and changed in ways i could never have anticipated. This year i put down roots. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  9. AmyS

    I would like to thank everyone who is part of this community for helping this far-flung dreamer, poet, thinker on the edge of Borneo (literally) to see what is possible when people come together in artistic community. It started with Andrew’s “The Far Country” and led me to the other great hearts and minds represented here. It led me, along with my little family, to attend the Inkwell Conference while on our furlough, and to see the faces and shake the hands and hear the tales in person. What a gift!

    Thank you, Russ, for honoring the beginnings here and reminding us of how all great things start. And then how they keep going and getting better.

    This is a little piece of Heaven to me, though I usually only lurk silently, unsure of how to belong, but somehow comforted that such a possiblity exists. I look forward to knowing you all in person someday, in the worshipful community of discovery and creativity that will continue for eternity.

  10. DougMc

    The line “We fought to keep a spirit of peace” reminded me of one of my favorite lines from “Dr. Strangelove”: “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”

    A few days late to the party as is my continued, unwitting custom, but I do have my mug firmly in hand. Cheers to the RR! Thanks for the look back, Russ.

    And fight on (for peace sake).

  11. April Pickle

    Hear, hear!
    I found out about the Rabbit Room at the end of 2011, so I am so happy to have just read the post about pickles and the post about Lyle. I feel like this place was my home long before I arrived.

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