A Love Note to the Lurkers

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  • Rebecca Reynolds
    Hutchmate
    @rebeccareynolds

    Hey, you out there. Yeah, you.

    I remember when I was a lurker. During my first few months of checking out the Rabbit Room, I was a little in awe. I watched all the “official” Rabbits throwing big ideas around online, talking about books I didn’t know, making jokes I didn’t understand. What I saw here made my heart pound, but the more I loved it, the less I wanted to risk being rejected by the sort of people I’d looked for all my life.

    Because you’re new and probably nervous like I was, I’m going to admit something super dorky to you. Hopefully it will take some of the weirdness out of whatever hesitation you are feeling.

    About five or six years ago, I had a blog with a tracker on it.  One day I checked the tracker and saw a hit from the city where I thought Andrew and Jamie Peterson lived. When I saw that, I freaked, wondering if somebody as gifted as Andrew could actually know or care that a nobody like me existed.

    At that point, my husband and I were stuck in a difficult ministry situation where I felt like I couldn’t be honest about much that was going on in my life. So even to imagine that God would let me be seen by my favorite songwriter of all songwriters, a living C.S. Lewis figure in my life, made me feel like God might have not dropped me into the abyss after all. I began to watch what Andrew did with his gifts even more closely, noticing how he was not only writing, but also creating a whole community of creators. This gave me hope on so many levels.

    The dominoes started falling. I began to read the books I was hearing Rabbits talk about. I began to have a little more courage to try to engage. I threw out a comment or two at a time. I had a couple of long conversations with Rabbits off line. Then Hutchmoot. Then real, solid relationships.

    My trust grew until the Rabbit Room became a sort of family for me. I found people I agreed with, people I disagreed with, people who were funny, people whose knowledge I wanted to download through a port in the back of my head. I found people who were tender, people who had fiery tempers, people who forgave like breathing, people who got mad and stomped off in a huff, people who challenged me, and people who believed more of me than I could ever believe of myself. In other words, I found a community.

    I’m not saying I never feel intimidated by the strength of the other Rabbits now (except for Pete, because I’ve decided to never let a Marine intimidate me, ever). But mostly, we operate like a bunch of cousins hanging out after Christmas dinner.

    We’ve had a few years now to get comfortable with one another through a private Facebook group. Some of us have grown close there like the friends on the old show Cheers, and that has been a really sweet thing to experience. But lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that what we’ve had has been ours only because an elite handful of people decided to first open their community up to us.

    Finally I understand what was given to us by those first Rabbits. They could have easily huddled in Nashville, having fine conversations among themselves in fancy coffee shops (or whatever people do in the big city). They didn’t need to ask anyone else to the table, but they took this beautiful thing and were willing to risk throwing the doors of their Eagle and Child wide open and say, “Come in! Come in to sit with us!”

    Now a second generation of Rabbits has that chance… hundreds of Rabbits who have drunk from the sweet cup of communion.

    I’m a beneficiary of the love of those who had one first, good vision, who looked out into the abyss and pulled me from anonymity into a home. I’m here because someone known took time to serve a stranger, and this same vision now compels today’s Rabbits to stare into the dark, to call out, and to pull more chairs up to the fire.

    For two or three days, I’ve been hanging on the edges of this forum, just praying for you. I’ve been asking God to give the anonymous Lurker a more definite outline in my heart. I’ve been asking for a sort of internal gravity inside me for you, for your past, for your pains, for the talents still locked inside you.

    And then I’ve been praying beyond you, for those people that you will someday draw in to this hearth after the Rabbit Room feels comfortable. Then I’m praying for the people they will pull in, and for the next generation, and for the next, on and on and on, until every lonely lurker finds a home.

    In my first months of exploring the Rabbit Room, I wondered why a group of people so funny and so bright would even want me around; but now some of those same people have become my closest friends. Yes, they have carried me at times, but I’ve also been able to carry them. We’ve leaned on one another through stuff you wouldn’t believe. Maybe that’s going to be true of you and some of the strong, brilliant folks you watch batting around ideas in the forum. Maybe the very people you think would never want to even talk to you will end up needing you before this journey is over.

    So welcome, Lurker. I hope your first few steps into this river are met with warmth. I hope you will be brave and let us see who you are, and that you will share your ideas, too. Because although we do have good things to give you, I’m just as excited about what you will give the world from your place by the Rabbit fire.

    With a great, expectant love,
    Becca

    6 users thanked author for this post.

    Hello Becca

    Lurker here. 🙂

    Thank you so much for this lovely post. I’ve been lurking here and wasn’t sure whether to take that step to join or not. Your post helped in making a decision. Obviously. 🙂 I first found out about the Rabbit Room through mentions by Jason Gray. I believe the old forum still existed then  (don’t quote me on it though. My Thinker isn’t what it used to be. 😉 ) but I only read and lurked, and didn’t join. I’m shy. 🙂  I’m not good with words. I wish I was though. So many words in my head but it’s like a big bowl of spaghetti, all tangled up in one big ball and don’t know how to untangle them. Anyway, that’s why I usually stay in the back round and prefer to read what others are saying and sharing and try to, as you’ve mentioned above “download peoples knowledge through a port in the back of my head” in hopes of maybe being able to use this knowledge myself one day. 🙂

    I would love to become a part of this community of wonderful, smart, funny, and kind people.

     

    Sincerely,

    Mandy


    Rebecca Reynolds
    Hutchmate
    @rebeccareynolds

    Mandy, I’m so glad you spoke up. Thanks for being brave! I love Jason’s music, too. He has such mighty gifts.

    What kinds of topics are you most interested in? Have you seen any conversations so far here that have stuck with you?

    What do you love to do? Do you have any hobbies?

    Thank you so much for this, @rebeccareynolds. I’ve spent a couple days watching, wondering if I should sign up. And then you posted this, and, well, here I am. Thanks for scooting your chair over, waving those of us on the edges into the circle, and assuring us that we are not alone and there really is room for us here. I’m more grateful than I can say.

    I think, for me, it has to do with not wanting to be a “groupie” with the very popular crowd that is the Rabbit Room. 🙂 I deeply admire the works of Andrew Peterson and have found beautiful artists and art suggested by this room. I’m very grateful for it. I still feel as though I don’t have much to add with words. Writing is not really my first language, painting is. But I am not an illustrator. I am a landscape painter. My window into the spiritual is through nature. As much as I feel a kinship to anyone who writes about CS Lewis or Tolkien I feel that I see them through an entirely different prism. A glimpse into the quiet, good and beautiful world of what Lewis says is the “first sketch.” I don’t paint to capture what a writer wrote. I paint to try to capture the landscape. The feeling of a place. Its movements and age. The stories written on it by the animals and weather.

    I wonder if I am making any sense! 🙂 But I thank you for being so kind and helping us all feel welcome. I loved your old blog and confess to reading your beautiful way of putting things for a long time Becca. God bless you sweet lady.


    Kyra Hinton
    Hutchmate
    @kyra-hinton

    @rebeccareynolds this was so beautiful. Thank you for the invitation, for waving us into the circle, as @bwinz said! I have a hard time believing such talented and amazing people would want us boring ones around, but your post helps me believe it a little more. 🙂

    On another note, @dwbaker, your paintings sound awesome. I am always drawn to landscapes and the “feeling of a place” as you said.  I would love to see some of your work!


    Miss Mary
    Hutchmate
    @missmary

    Hi Dawn, I am new too, but I do understand. I love reading words but writing them is really not my thing. Did you paint the picture in your profile? When I see the fog and the light on it moving through the trees like that it makes me think of the Spirit of God moving through the world when it was young and moving through it still. So often we are no more aware of Him than the trees know what the fog is doing, we just feel a bit of cold or damp now and then, but have no idea what the larger picture looks like, how beautiful it is, or how it ties us all together. Now I wish I were a writer so I could express all that well, but I hope you get the idea.

    Perhaps some of us with less “traditional” rabbitty things should consider cross posting out of our section sometimes, like dropping a landscape like that into the “writing prompts” thread  and see what the real writers can do with it.


    Rebecca Reynolds
    Hutchmate
    @rebeccareynolds

    I’m standing in the kitchen boiling eggs right now, scrolling through all this on my phone — but it’s exciting to see these conversations happening. Thank you all for taking the leap. Yes, yes, you are wanted here. And yes, you are needed. More soon

    Becca


    Mandy
    Hutchmate
    @mandy

    @rebeccareynolds – To answer your questions…

    “What kinds of topics are you most interested in” – All of them? Ha. The more variety, the better.

    “Have you seen any conversations so far here that have stuck with you?” – One place I usually go to first is the introductory section. I enjoy reading about other people. Also, I just read @smithmeaganm‘s post over in Community Round Table and found it very fitting. She uses her art to communicate rather than words and I like to use pictures/photography. Which leads to your next question…

    “What do you love to do? Do you have any hobbies?” – Photography. Not that I’m an expert or anything but it is something I enjoy doing very much. Don’t always get to pursue this passion but when I do, I can disconnect from this world for a little while and step into a different world. My favorite is macro photography. I’m always so amazed at how much details and beauty we miss because we can’t see them with the naked eye. I had no idea how cute a dragonfly’s face is.

    Also, I love listening to music, and reading books. (Music is my therapy. And it’s cheaper too. ha)

     

     

    A big Hello also to @bwinz , @dwbaker , @kyra-hinton , @missmary .

     

    Now off to read and explore more of this wonderful place.

    I have a terrible tendency that whenever I step into something new, whether a new place, a new song, or (in this case) a new community, I automatically try to make it all as normal as possible to me. But God has been getting on me about this, and I am glad that He is. I need to realize how awesome and un-normal stuff can be sometimes. This whole community is amazing. I find it so hard to believe that these super-famous people actually want us normal people to be a part of this wonderful thing that is the Rabbit Room. I feel that I may have come on too strongly with the posts and stuff, but it is because I am so excited to be here and can’t help it! Thank you for your post @rebeccareynolds. I have been a lurker on here for awhile, and having been given the opportunity to be a part of it is something that I need to stop and geek-out about 🙂

    I love this post, @rebeccareynolds , and I love the comments here so much. There isn’t a place for super-famous people surrounded by groupies, it’s a place where a hundred different kinds of normal people can offer their own unique beauty to the rest of the us. I can’t wait to hear more from you all.


    Tresta Payne
    Hutchmate
    @trestapayne

    I love this. I’m looking forward to spending more time here and less on Facebook ; ) Thank you for welcoming us, @rebeccareynolds.


    Meagan M. Smith
    Hutchmate
    @smithmeaganm

    <span class=”bbp-user-nicename”><span class=”handle-sign”>@</span>dwbaker</span>   I was just reading through the thread and I had to stop because I got super excited when I read your post. Is there any way you could share some of your paintings with us? I would -love- to see some landscapes you’ve done. I’m a graphic designer myself, but I’ve worked in several museums and for an arts council at one point, besides being a lover of art my whole life. The majority of my photography is nature based though I usually scale down to focusing on flowers and occasionally I dabble in landscapes. You can start a thread under your name in the art section, or I can set up a thread for us to share with one another if you’re more comfortable with that? Just make sure to include ” @smithmeaganm ” in your reply. 🙂 So glad you’re here!


    Meagan M. Smith
    Hutchmate
    @smithmeaganm

    @mandy Would you be interested if we did a “Community Fridge” so to speak? We could have a thread where we encourage one another to share something visual by posting it “to the fridge” for everyone to see. 🙂


    Meagan M. Smith
    Hutchmate
    @smithmeaganm

    @mandy I angered the forum, but I just posted something for you in this thread…Sorry oh mighty forum…


    Meagan M. Smith
    Hutchmate
    @smithmeaganm

    @dwbaker I also just posted to you in this thread, but have greatly angered the forum. Please come check it out 😀

     

    @admin I have made a mess of this thread with non working @’s…


    Kyra Hinton
    Hutchmate
    @kyra-hinton

    @smithmeaganm A “Community Fridge” sounds like the coolest thing! The Art forum needs some life in it!


    Rebecca Reynolds
    Hutchmate
    @rebeccareynolds

    Such good comments here. Thank you all for being honest and for giving us the chance to see a little bit of who you are and what you love. It’s fun thinking about how your gifts and interests fit into the Rabbit Room.

    I really do think that when you meet the Rabbits in person, you might be surprised about how terrifically not-elite they are. Quite a few of them are a little bit awkward and dorky, in fact. (Eric Peters lost one of my best wiffle balls in the trees behind our house, if that tells you anything.)

    Yeah, a lot of people in the Rabbit Room have strong gifts with words, music, and images. I get why that is intimidating. But please remember that in a virtual world, it’s easy to perceive the strengths of other people without seeing how they also have regular human weaknesses. And sometimes having a supersized gift also means you have supersized weaknesses to balance that out.

    Also, for those of you who don’t consider yourselves particularly creative, please don’t underestimate the importance of the listener/responder gift. Artists desperately need people to interact with what they are trying to offer. Yours is not a passive role. It’s not the booby prize of the creative world; it’s something vital and active.  Your responses are like a bat’s echolocation. They help an artist know if he’s on the right track.. if he is in a wide, good space or if he’s about to bang his face on a stalactite.

    When my husband was a pastor, I remember one Sunday when he had stayed up until 3:00 AM the night before, struggling with writing his sermon. It had been such a hard week, one of those that just knocks a preacher to pieces. He had been undermined, worn thin, used up, drained. When I was walking  back to my car to drive home after it was over, a woman approached me and said, “That was such a great sermon, I almost slipped up and told him how much I liked it.”  When I asked her why she didn’t tell him so she said, “I try to never tell a preacher when he does something right. I don’t want it to go to their heads.”

    I was astonished. At that point, my husband was a lot closer to just giving up out of fatigue than he was to becoming proud. He needed words of resonance spoken into him by the people he was trying to serve. When he got home later that afternoon, I asked him what sort of interaction he had received. “Nobody said anything to me about it,” he said.

    Even though I’m not a famous writer like some of the people here, there have been days when I just wanted to quit trying to make anything. But then I would open my mailbox and find a card from Kate Hinson, or a mug from April Pickle, or flowers from Alyssa Ramsey, or a Facebook message from Ron Block saying, “Don’t forget you are a poet.”  Or there will be a string of comments from strangers on a Rabbit Room post that help me believe that the 40 hours I spent creating ten paragraphs weren’t just an exercise in futility.

    I haven’t quit, in part, because of these things. They have held up my arms and carried me down the road. Whatever I do write here is partly created by all those people, too. So as you begin to engage with your comments and reactions, you will help create whatever comes after you have participated.

    Please, never believe that your comments aren’t important. You never know who they will touch, or at what critical point they will come in someone’s decision making.

    I feel like this comment is too long and passionate. Sorry. I hope it’s not weird. I just absolutely get why you feel the way you do, but I also want you to know that you matter to us for lots of reasons. If you are creative, we want to see what you create. If you are a reader, we need to hear from you, too. Or maybe you are an encourager who will coast the dialogue that happens on this site and find new friends to tend in the nooks and crannies.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    @smithmeaganm “Community Fridge” sounds like a great idea.  I love hanging stuff on my fridge and a virtual one would be fun too.

    @Rebecca Reynolds Thank you for your heartfelt post. It’s not weird at all but rather encouraging and I take comfort in knowing that while I might not be the most artistic person around, my words and opinions still matter. I like that. Thank you.

     

    @smithmeaganm “Community Fridge” sounds like a great idea.  I love hanging stuff on my fridge and a virtual one would be fun too.

    @rebeccareynolds Thank you for your heartfelt post. It’s not weird at all but rather encouraging and I take comfort in knowing that while I might not be the most artistic person around, my words and opinions still matter. I like that. Thank you.

     

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