Alone in the Light


There was a dead beetle on the bathroom floor the night I got home from Hutchmoot.

I thought it was dead, anyway, until I turned on the light. The sudden illumination set off whatever reactions or thoughts would normally send a shiny-backed bug skittering off into darkness. But this bug was going nowhere. It was stuck on its back, flailing in vain for a foothold. It gave up quickly enough – so quickly that I guessed it had been stuck there a long while, exhausting itself with kicking against air.

All I could think was, If N.D. Wilson were here, I bet he could tell me the exact manner in which such bugs are hatched, and the likelihood of this particular bug ever coming into existence, and the chances of its story ever bringing it to my bathroom, and the wonder of it ever being my bathroom to begin with, augmented by the miracle of my own existence. But N.D. Wilson wasn’t there, and I was left to try to do justice to the beetle’s meaning and being on my own.

Having thus considered the bug for a moment, I couldn’t bring myself to kill it. That actually had less to do with my awe at its existence than with my general disinclination to feel and hear a crunchy death under my foot. I also couldn’t muster the compassion to set six little feet aright and watch them scurry into my bedroom.

So I left it to die alone.

Here I must ask you to forgive the weakness of my words. I in no way intend to suggest a comparison between beetles and human beings. But the plight of the beetle did put a picture to a certain fear of mine, and it is this: that you were flailing, exposed, and exhausted while I basked in the light, and I did nothing.

Hutchmoot is, I think for many of us, a haven. It’s a flood of God’s light and love over our injuries and fears. But sometimes light exposes and chafes what is too raw yet for binding up. It sends you into hiding. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like grace. Sometimes it just makes you mad.

I’ve been there. I have watched the happy masses drinking in that light, glowing with it, sloshing it around in buckets of laughter. I have stood at a distance, wondering why it was so easy for them. Resenting them for it. Resenting myself. I’ve been desperate to feel what they felt.

It hurts me to think that someone may have left Hutchmoot feeling that way. But if you did, I want you to know that you are not forgotten.

I thought of you during the closing session, and I daresay I’m not the only one. I wondered if you sat with a clenched jaw, filling up with bitterness as inaccessible joy and gratitude spilled around you. Or maybe you had to look away when others told how their fears subsided, because yours never did. Such frustration – when you have tasted beauty but not been able to swallow it. And when the Facebook feed filled with the overflow, I wondered if you stuffed your pain and clicked “like” because being honest was too risky. Maybe you just shut it down altogether.

Hutchmoot “worked” for everyone else. There must be something wrong with you.

Don’t believe it.

I want you to know that you really do belong here, and you are truly not alone. I want to ask you to forgive me, friend, for failing to see you. Forgive me if I was too squeamish to come near your crackling pain. Forgive me if you were groping for a foothold, and I switched off the light and walked away.

Please don’t give up.

When you are ready, come. Please come and let us love you.


  1. Janna

    Thanks for painting that picture so well, Alyssa. You’re one of my favorites! And I agree with this sentiment: don’t believe it. Many of us have been there. Including me.

  2. Shannon

    I haven’t been able to put into words anything about Hutchmoot, no matter how many times I try. Thank you for this. Yes. Just thank you.

  3. Peace Valley Life

    Some guy wrote a lyric that captures this perfectly:

    “And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
    Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
    When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
    Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
    ‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…”

  4. Alyssa Ramsey

    Janna: Me too. You’d think that after having been to HM once, the next time would be easier, but man, was the second year hard for me. I know you had a similar experience. Expectations, (perceived) pressure, fear, etc. — they can really do a number on you. I’m glad you didn’t give up.

    Peter: Thank. I do hope it’s encouraging. Praying that it helps instead of hurts.

    Ming: Thank YOU, brave girl. You give me courage.

  5. Alyssa Ramsey

    * Thanks.

    Shannon: I’m with you. It really can be overwhelming — such a confluence of thoughts, emotions, and experiences. It usually takes me at least a week to even know what I think about my time at HM. Don’t be discouraged! Really, you’re not alone.

    PVL: I was thinking of that exact lyric as I worked through this. You’re right, it says it perfectly. Thanks for posting that.

    Laura: Thank you. I’m so glad we finally had a real conversation this year. 🙂

  6. Kristen P.

    Although this wasn’t the case for me at Hutchmoot this year, I have felt the flood of God’s light hurt. Thank you for this:

    “It’s a flood of God’s light and love over our injuries and fears. But sometimes light exposes and chafes what is too raw yet for binding up. It sends you into hiding. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like grace.”

  7. Colleen

    Thanks for writing this…I’d prayed to be able to get tickets to HM a long time ago and spent so much time anticipating what it would mean to me (my own fault). Of course, while there I mostly felt fear, feelings of inadequacy and stupidity. I’ve worked for so long (and felt called for so long) to write a book laid on my heart and it is so wrapped up in my history and redemption that I’ve been sick over the fact that it just isn’t being born in my time (or from my efforts). I have most definitely felt like that beetle ready to give up, on its back. But God is a resurrection God…and Hutchmoot for me was a reminder that really, God brings all things good to life. He fulfills the calling. Perhaps a part of me must die? Because there are bound to be good things for me to do on the other side of all death. Thanks for your compassion, Alyssa.

  8. Alyssa Ramsey

    Kristen, I am determined to meet you next year, darn it. I loved your blog post. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Colleen, thank you for sharing that. I think part of where this post came from is the lesson God has been teaching me recently about expectations. I’m pretty sure it’s the deadliest enemy to all things creative in my life — whether it’s writing, motherhood, some other relationship, youth ministry, etc. Putting my human expectations on those things just makes them forced and clunky. I’m figuring out (and this is me still working through this — not trying to be preachy AT ALL) that my best days as a writer, or a mother, or in any other area come when I stop insisting that such and such needs to happen on my terms and on my timetable. Trust, trust, trust. And yes, like you said, die. It’s so hard. I’m glad HM gave you a kernel of hope. Keep holding on to that calling. I hope you’ll come back to HM next year with a whole new story to tell. Blessings, sister.

  9. Renee Keren Powell

    I’d like to think that the bug you left on your bathroom floor was very grateful that you resisted crunching her. There are many that wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

    Light turned off.

    Sigh of relief.

    And in time, a chance to “write” herself.

  10. Bill Higgins

    I’ve never read a more powerful, compassionate, and transparent invitation from one on the ‘inside’. This blessed me. I believe it’s part of the reason I keep being drawn to this community. Thank you.

  11. Alyssa Ramsey

    Bill, I agree. The wide welcome of this community is a rare, wonderful thing. I don’t think I’ve ever known a group of people to extend a more palpable grace to me. I hope that never changes.

    Renee, I hadn’t thought of it quite that way! I suppose that if I were the bug and had a choice between being crunched or left to end my story on my own terms, I might want to be dealt with that way. But I’m sure I still would have preferred to be set on my little feet and rescued. 🙂

    Jen, thank you. I sure did miss seeing the Jen/Sherri/Chris/Ryan/Ashley contingent this year. Next year, I hope!

  12. Jen

    Aw, thanks, Alyssa! However, I’m a different Jen than the one listed above. If the other Jen can’t make it one year, and I’m able to make the trek, I sure wouldn’t mind being a proxy. 😉

  13. Alyssa Ramsey

    Oops! Sorry about that, Jen. I actually discovered your blog the other day and was blown away. You write beautifully. I hope you do make the trek to HM someday!

  14. Rachel S


    Thank you for posting this. I was one of those people this year. Afraid to move, flailing alone in the light. Honestly, I broke down each time I read this. And one of those times was just this week. I was not prepared for what I would experience at Hutchmoot. Life’s been hard (to say the least) recently and there are wounds too raw for binding, yes. Still, God’s grace is so magnificent that he would use the words of someone I don’t know to begin healing them. Thank you for being obedient to share.

  15. Alyssa Ramsey

    Rachel, it’s so good to hear from you. Thanks for your honesty. If there’s one thing this community has done for me, it has reminded me that I’m not alone. But even in the short time since Hutchmoot, I’ve begun to forget it, or to doubt it. Thanks for reminding me once again that it’s safe to be broken here.

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