Hutchmoot Sound Off


Wow. Thank you. Thank you all so much for making Hutchmoot 2013 such an unforgettable weekend. I can hardly believe you let us keep doing this. I mean really, seriously, I can’t believe we get to have this much fun. I’m humbled, honored, and amazed.

We’ve made it a tradition each year to collect everyone’s thoughts and blog posts in one spot and I hope you’ll help us continue that tradition by adding your voice to the comments here. What was the highlight of your weekend? (For me, it was either Chewbacca Peters (video anyone?), Arthur Alligood, or the standing ovation you gave to Leif.) If you’ve written something to try to describe or process your experience this weekend, please provide a link here. We’d like to read it. If you’ve posted those thoughts on Facebook please feel welcome to copy/paste them into a comment. We want to hear what you have to say and we want others to hear you as well.

And if you’d like to help us thank the Graham family for their generosity this weekend, please send me an email at


  1. Alister Hill

    (copied from FB)

    Here is a brief thought that summarizes Hutchmoot ’13 (my first) for me:

    In ‘Mind Of The Maker’, Dorothy Sayers talks about how many (if not all) authors invest heavily in the creation of one or two main characters in the stories that they write. Some of the other creations that appear in their work seem to be afterthoughts – never quite taking on life of their own. And I think that is sometimes how WE feel when faced with other people who appear to quite simply have a brighter, flashier role to play in the World. At Hutchmoot, I (like many others) was not there to shine by presenting any art of my own, and as I quietly witnessed all the talent on display I too wondered what I was doing there. But N.D. Wilson of course knew this, and gave himself over to describing what the most important art of all is: Life. He said a few words of deep, precious encouragement to us – to help us realize that books, paintings, music etc… pale into the background compared with the artistry of a mother raising her children. THAT is the pinnacle of human artistry. Investing in each other; edifying, exhorting, encouraging, shaping, lifting, caring, LOVING each other.

    Do we all shine as artists in that way? We ALL should!

    And finally, look at it like this:

    God is not like human artists. His story doesn’t have characters that are left on the sidelines. Characters that He simply doesn’t have the time or energy or ability to invest in. If YOU, dear Hutchmoot friend, EVER feel like you are on the sidelines of ANYTHING…. Remember this: God has invested EVERYTHING in your creation. He has NOT put anything less into you than He has put into N.D. Wilson, Ron Block or Chewb…Eric Peters. (Sorry Eric – you have a new name now). God has invested the Lord Jesus Christ into you! The King of the Universe has been GIVEN for you! We are all the result of God’s infinite artistry, and in no way should anyone of His children feel sidelined. He has a shiny place for us in the perfect future He is building – brick by broken-but-being-remade brick.

  2. Jeremiah Lange

    I always feel a yearn to write, Hutchmoot gave me the legs to jump off that cliff and test my wings. I started a blog yesterday and my first post was about my experience at Hutchmoot. I was blessed beyond measure to be there!

  3. Peter B

    Last year, a box stood out all weekend with a stack of cards where we could scribble answers to this question. I desperately wanted something to put in the box, but I felt empty. Again and again, I dug around for words of power to describe Hutchmoot.

    Nothing came close.

    This year, though, I found it. After a delightful and fortuitous conversation at the sketchbook table (thank you, Ming) I had Narnia on the brain all night and into the morning — and finally it hit me.

    Do you remember the scene in Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Lucy is compelled to enter the magician’s house? She enters against her will, trembles as she pads down the hall (mysterious and fascinating though it is) and eventually finds the target of her search: a heavy, wondrous book. Turning through its pages, she discovers spells of all kinds — some useful, some captivating, and some that expose the darkness in her own heart — until she comes to her objective: A Spell to Make Hidden Things Visible.

    As she reads the words, the page comes alive — slowly at first, and then overflowing with vibrant color. She soon discovers that this transformation is only the beginning; countless fellow beings, and even the great Lion himself, show up as a result.

    “I have been here all the time,” said he, “but you have just made me visible.”
    “Aslan!” said Lucy almost a little reproachfully. “Don’t make fun of me. As if anything I could do would make you visible!”
    “It did,” said Aslan. “Do you think I wouldn’t obey my own rules?”

    I submit to you, readers and friends, that Hutchmoot is simply this: a spell to make hidden things visible.

    How many of us saw our fears melt and lifelong friends spring into being before our unbelieving eyes? How many discovered gifts, or passions, or found them all over again through the playful plans of our delighted hosts?

    Food was revealed to be an art form — an extravagant song to the maker of capers and totatoes.

    Hutchmoot even has three new marriages to its credit (to say nothing of those strengthened and rejuvenated) and every weary one of us has been shown a clearer, bolder picture of the one who makes us and makes us new.

    We all came to the same city. We all walked through the same door. We all met the same Lion who waited with a patient but knowing smile, to breathe upon us and make us able to stand.

    Now we’ve returned to the ship, and sailed away from the magical company we were so blessed to keep for three wondrous days. What remains of the spell? What can we do in this suddenly foreign place named Reality, where cares and sorrows and busyness once again threaten to swallow up what we know to be true about Christ, and creation, and the unspeakably precious images of God scattered lavishly around us like Fabergé eggs on a playground?

    Open the book again.

    Remember the spell.


  4. Rob Collins

    I so desired to share these words on the last day of Hutchmoot. Yet while the words were in me I could not bare to speak them aloud. The thought of my wife, Casey, and I breaking down was too much. What I could not speak I write here.

    On the wednesday before Hutchmoot we buried our one month old nephew. Landon was born very premature and he fought hard, but he passed away on October 6th. For a month we lived as nomads, traveling from our home to the NICU at UAB in Birmingham, AL. We wept and mourned with our family and then had to decide whether we would attend Hutchmoot or not. We decided to go.

    The ride up was a mixed bag of emotions. We laughed at times and admired the beautiful drive through the Tennessee Valley to Nashville. Then we’d get quite, silence would weigh heavy, tears would come. There’re weren’t words. The only music played was Eric Peters through the truck speakers; mostly we both wondered how in the world we would react to being at a place like Hutchmoot.

    I prayed that the Lord would have mercy on Casey and myself. And mercy was given through all of you. Your smiles and accepting tones along with warm embraces and fearless conversations brought healing. I can’t say that every moment was joyous. At one point my wife said, “I feel like I should wear a sign that says ‘I’m in mourning.’” And when people spoke of children, which happens a lot at Hutchmoot, a heart sting followed. And yet, mercy came. Like a flooding river from the dry rocks of our hurt, mercy came. It came in music and lovely words. It came from genuine fellowship and honest worship.

    Mercy plants itself at Hutchmoot and grows wildly throughout, like kudzu it covers everything in green, leafy life.

    I could not say it there, so I say it here, thank you. Thank you for being the bearers of mercy.

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

    Rob Collins
    Pastor of Students at Locust Grove Church

  5. whipple

    This is a cursory observation, as I think I’ll be mulling over Hutchmoot for a long time yet.

    On the sidewalk outside Church of the Redeemer, we sat smoking pipes. Though it was not mere smoking, you understand. We breathed history, savoring the work of sweat and hands, grief and joy. Distant men and women, uncertain of market prices and weather, had planted long fields of tobacco, hiring poor transients and shady louts to get the extra work done. The leaves were hung in barns. Families said prayers and pinched pennies. Other people (one among them a genius!) spent hours and days on little blocks of wood, studying and sanding, trying to unlock the glyphs in the grain. With their hands, these pipe-makers honed otherwise castoff briar-wood into speech.

    In a confluence of the work of years, we smoked all of this, delighting in the memories in the scent. Several times that weekend, a rotating cadre of mirthful gents (and ladies, occasionally) held forth on the sidewalk. Not everyone partook, but many who passed by noticed the fragrances of time and effort. I don’t think anyone mistook our appreciation for gluttony. The thanks of enjoyment was evident.

    I can say with modest certainty that we will not convert the whole world to delight in beautiful, incarnational stories. Not everyone smokes, after all. Still, when people of such a mind gather together, the fragrances of appreciation reach far on the wind.

    It is my hope and prayer that Hutchmoot is such for us and for our particular spheres. We breathed in the Story, over and over, this past week. The Word does not return to Him void, but accomplishes that purpose for which He sent it.

  6. April Pickle

    I was visiting with a lady sitting behind me at Church of the Redeemer on Sunday and she asked, “What do you like about Hutchmoot?” I grinned. No words came. I smiled bigger. Still, no words. I felt my eyes watering, and said “I think I’m going to cry.” That was all I had for her.
    I hope to have more for you all soon.

  7. dawn

    Repost from FB…

    I came to Hutchmoot tired. Bone tired, my energy and my hope sapped. The past eight years had been characterized by sickness and death, by grief and loss, by discouragement and desperation and despair. I came looking for something I couldn’t even name. Something I could barely remember.

    As the last notes of the doxology faded on Sunday afternoon, I was still looking. I had had a good weekend. It was good to be away. But I still felt worn and tattered. Pete broke into my thoughts “You have some art to sign”. I was toward the front of the crowd heading out into the narthex – I had a long drive and I needed to get on the road. And then I saw what we had created together. I saw Jennifer’s plan leaned up against the window. I heard other people exclaim as they caught sight of the tiles all fitting together. And I remembered. I remembered anew that there is an Artist. That as hard and messy and chaotic as these last years have been, they are bounded and finite, like my 5×5 tile (which is good because I was really tired of coloring green!). But they have a purpose, they are critical to the work the Artist is doing. Without them, it wouldn’t be the same, it wouldn’t have the depth or the life it will now. Every tile matters.

    As I reflected on the weekend, as I’ve shared about it, I’ve realized that I don’t describe it by what was present, but by what was missing. There was no criticism, no impatience, no judgement, no competition. These are the things that have characterized my life for the last four years. In their absence there was space, and good things started to grow. Encouragement, promise, faith. And then, crawling out of its den, squinting at the sun and wrinkling its nose, so foreign that I barely recognized it…hope.

    So hold on the promise! The stories are true – that Jesus makes all things new! The dawn is upon you!

  8. Christine

    As I try to gather words to explain what Hutchmoot means to me, I can only come up with illustrations, word pictures, parables. Maybe a reason why we best explain Hutchmoot in parables is because it’s a slice of the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Hutchmoot felt like God took a sharpie marker and drew a bold line connecting the dots and dashes of my life experiences, which had looked a little bit like morse code. I’d tried to fill the blank spaces of my “line” in the past, but something about this week has brought me a sense of wholeness.

  9. Jason McFarland

    When I was driving the three hours home after Hutchmoot ’13, there were a few things I came to conclude very quickly. One, I had a lot of processing to do, and, two, I wouldn’t be able to provide satisfactory answers for the people I knew would ask how Hutchmoot went. I decided while listening to some Mullins that I would have to write in my journal…and write and write and write…before answering any questions. I even told a friend that night she would have to wait until I wrote before the big reveal. I’m sure the suspense is killing her.
    But for the past two days I’ve barely had time to eat because of my work—I mean that literally—much less process what was going through my head and heart last weekend. I’m still going to write something out this week; maybe I’ll share that here. But there’s one thing that did come out of this weekend that I would appreciate your prayers about.
    In short, I’m meeting with one of my bosses tomorrow morning to let him know that I need to step out of my part-time job at our church as soon as we can find someone to take over.
    The funny, and really not surprising, thing about this decision is that I should have made it months ago. But fear, pride, selfishness, and probably a host of other sins kept me from doing so. My weekend at Hutchmoot—by which I mean the quiet, the conversations, the art, the acceptance, and more, that I experienced at Hutchmoot—has given me the courage to take a step forward into some new unknowns. I like the new, I just don’t always like the unknown.
    So please, if you think about it, send up a prayer on my behalf tomorrow morning as I speak with my boss and friend. And probably more importantly, please pray that I honor God with my time and creativity as I move forward into a new period of my life.

  10. Pete Tegeler

    The words aren’t quite right, but Leif Enger said something like this:

    – People will talk about yeast and flour, but sometimes I just want to eat cinnamon rolls.

    For me, that sums up Hutchmoot. I work in a church and I take theology classes at a seminary, and while it’s good to talk about how to do church life, or how such-and-such verse actually has to do with whatever, sometimes all I really want to do is soak in the wonder and the awe and the beauty. Sometimes I want to hear my heart say at last, “That is delicious!” over and over, as I come to realize that there is so much that is good and beautiful and true.

    Now that I’m back, people will ask me how my trip was and I say something like, “I feel very satisfied and full.”

    Yeah. Full of cinnamon rolls.

  11. Sarah Geil

    I should have probably helped out somewhere. I should have probably pondered one of the deep concepts I sneaked in from the morning session. I should have probably engaged one of the brilliant minds present in conversation. Instead, I did something I rarely ever do. I went with an impulse. I didn’t ponder the 10,000 outcomes, I just went.
    I pushed open the door, pushed away my fears, and asked the children of my heroes, “Can I swing with you?” The kids (who quickly became my heroes as well) welcomed me with a smile, “Of course!” I hopped on the swing and pushed off.
    My feet didn’t touch. “We’re having a jumping contest” Jessie said. I wonder how long kids have jumped off of swings. Probably since playgrounds had them. Their fearlessness rubbed off on me. Back and forth I pumped until I was high enough. My focus was not on the ground covering that only lightly covered the hard ground. My gaze was fixed ahead. One. Two. Three. I leaped. Through the air I glided, over and over again. I landed with thuds. I fell. I got dirty. Jessie beat me, but oh—flying was fun.
    Later, Skye and I were breathing too hard from jumping. I looked over at the wise and fun eleven year old girl. “Want to see if we can hold hands and swing?” She looked at me as if that was the best idea ever. We struggled to get our swings in sync. She slowed down for me. At first, it was impossible to reach that beautiful harmony. We were different sizes, after all. We missed a couple of times. Finally, we got it. I reached out and grabbed her hand. The time we spent connected was short, but our giggles lasted for a long time.
    In a way, this entire weekend was like that. I let a few fears and insecurities creep in, but I learned to identify them. I saw them, and I saw how much I had allowed them to take over. Most minds at Hutchmoot were moving much faster than mine. It took a little bit of time, but somewhere between “You can feed it to the aliens” and “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” we joined hands. And for a moment, all were singing together. It felt like flying.

  12. Abby Pickle

    On the eve of the long awaited weekend,
    There was panic,
    Or at least frustration.
    Busted water line.
    Why now?
    Hole dug.
    Pipe repaired.
    Table placed,
    To keep the path safe.
    “Do not move table,
    There is a hole.”
    Later anonymous attendee
    Penned in rabbit before hole.
    As if this working of the curse,
    This pockmark in Hutchmoot’s perfection,
    Was an ancient joke.

    He weaves the acts of evil
    Into greater glory.
    Broken vessels made of dust
    Are immortals being sanctified.

    Day two.
    The hole needed filling in,
    A shovel taken up.
    Maybe lonely eyes
    Would see another blow from the world.
    But friends stood round,
    As the earth fell into place,
    Moved by work.
    They made a ring.
    As the dirt was packed in,
    The hole healed.

    Life here is an onslaught
    Of things gone wrong,
    And things still good.
    And the servants of the secret fire,
    Rubbing sleep from their eyes,
    To ride the story together.
    Together alive to enjoyment.
    Together alive to pain.

  13. Erin Moon

    I’m so grateful for Hutchmoot. Grateful for the people who lovingly put it on, for the people who thoughtfully approach, and the people I go back to when it is finished. I’m still processing, taking my notebook to bed with me and going over all my rushed scribbling, trying to remember what Pete said about this, or how Jonathan put that.

    I think the best thing I can say, however, is that I’m grateful. Several times throughout the weekend, I just sat back thinking “I can’t believe this place in time exists. And I’m just really grateful to be here.”

  14. Peter Rabbit

    Huchmoot…how can I describe it…. Got it! A place where rabbits gather to smoke pipes (a most disturbing picture of which can be seen atop this post). I am a non-smoking rabbit and prefer carrots. The idea of smoke entering my small lungs is not pleasant in the least whatever nostalgia may accompany it! However at Huchmoot they do have lots of good singers who play melodious tunes which I can hear at the entrance of my hole. That reminds me. I once found a guitar lying next to a picnic blanket on a sunny hill. I tried to upgrade real estate lots by moving from my cave into the finely built hole of the custom Taylor, but the current owner was not overly keen on my removing of the Elixer gate for ease of access. In fact, I think he was quite disgruntled over the whole matter. If I recall correctly, he was the picnicker who nearly severed me in twain with his bow and arrow. Ah yes, it was he! Maybe if I can sneak into Huchmoot this year, Andy Gullahorn won’t be so adverse to respectable tenants. He need not even set up a “no smoking sign!”

  15. Karen Buck

    Remember in “Through a Screen Darkly” when it suddenly hit Spielberg that “Close Encounters” carried the subtext of his parent’s divorce- the unification of his musical mother and techy dad fleshed out in interaction with a melodious spaceship?

    I’ve been striving to understand some of my hang-ups about performing. Though I regularly lead worship for a large church and feel completely at ease, in the context of sharing songs that are not directed to God I get all locked up. I love songwriting, and thanks to Rebecca Reynolds’ facebook song challenges I’m writing music freely again- at least to her lyrics for now. But I’ve struggled to identify my own expressive voice, and especially find it almost overwhelming to just be the center of attention with singing. I am like the Anti-Salesman…I hate to think about wasting someone’s time sharing my music. I found myself praying and journaling through the weekend, pleading for a breakthrough.

    So my epiphany at Hutchmoot came during Rebecca and Ron’s session, as they explored the origins of the ideas within us with questions about background and such. My parents are wonderful, loving folks and my childhood was as free from heartache as one’s could be…but suddenly I could clearly see that I’ve been imprinted by some attitudes and experiences that completely explain my discomfort with expression in the spotlight. How I never connected the dots before is sort of shocking now because I’m so analytical, but I just didn’t see it.

    So when at closing Russ Ramsey went and prayed Psalm 139 over us, the very same verses I’d been copying into my journal all weekend (!), I was just filled up with the wonder of His goodness to me…for a husband who graciously tended our family so I could come, for the Body of Christ here on this side of heaven, for the surprises and freshness that children bring, for friendships started and deepened, for perfect love which casts out fear, for the transforming of my mind. It is no small thing to be so understood, and I am grateful!

  16. Renee Keren Powell

    Renee’s snapshot #1: Exhaustion hits on Saturday mid-morning and I walk into the living room where it is filled with others unwinding from the first session. A piano is playing. Books are open in their various forms – paper, MacBook and e-reader. All are looking for a moment of quiet before the schedule continues.
    Across the room Suzanne is spinning wool with her Nordic spindle and I can’t resist watching. Getting here, getting to Hutchmoot, was more than the long drive from Indiana. Getting to Hutchmoot was a journey. One that included my car breaking down 2 blocks past my B&B and being grateful. Grateful that the car made it to Nashville. Grateful that my B&B was close enough to walk. Grateful that Bobbie repaired my car in short order. And now grateful for the woman across from me offering to teach me and Ming how to spin wool. And as I learn something new from that generosity, the room starts to liven with conversation, reflections of Hutchmoot. Add to that the fragrance of pipe tobacco drifting from the front porch and I realize that I had arrived home.
    Hutchmoot may be just a temporary 4 day trip home before we return to our normal lives, but it is a wonderful, exhausting gathering of generous souls that just want to share. Share their faith, share their talents, and share some deep conversation. This moment was the unnamed magic that Pete and his crew was striving towards. Moments like this were happening over and over again in the hallways, in the chapel, under the tent while enjoying great coffee, breaking more than bread, and instagraming pictures of our final feast. Sunday’s leaving was savored with laughter and tears and GREAT ART!
    Suzanne, thanks for the link for Paradise Fibers. My Nordic spindle has arrived with some beginners wool and soon I may have as expert of hands as yours. Maybe? At least I will give it a whirl.

  17. Lisa

    It’s hard, as a non-Hutchmooter, to read these posts, like someone who’s desperately hungry and lonely with her nose pressed up against the window and seeing all the food and fellowship “inside”. But it’s good to see the “inside” and to know that such places exist and that such a lovely, transforming weekend was had by you all.

    I’m very grateful for the Rabbit Room, where maybe just a small taste of Hutchmoot is available. It’s all just a little taste of Heaven, one way or another, and that is always a Good Thing. Blessings to all who attended and all who didn’t, in the name of Jesus who redeems all for His good purposes!

  18. Carrie

    Karen Buck – Have you heard Nick Flora’s song “Nobody Gets Out Clean”? Strikes me as the kind of thing you’re talking about – no matter how wonderful our upbringing, we all have experiences that have shaped who we are. Great song. You might appreciate it.

  19. aimee

    Karen Buck! I’m so glad to see your name and read your thoughts post-hutchmoot, and sad to think you are now far away again. I find myself looking for you or Rachel or Tamara or one of our other new friends when I’m walking through a Nashville store.

    I’ve been enjoying all of the lovely thoughts and pictures and videos posted this week.

    I wrote about a tiny part of the whole big Moot, a moment in between.

  20. James Witmer

    I missed being there this year, but really enjoy seeing it through all of you. Thank you for sharing. The echoes of home that ring so loudly through a Hutchmoot ring true, if fainter, through your writing and comments.

    @PeterB, I love that scene in ‘Dawn Treader, and how you used it here!

  21. Johnathan Nickels

    @Sarah Geil , beautiful!! It is almost like flying, flying with so many close friends slipping the surely bonds of earth. Dancing in the skies of laughter, whiles silent lifted mind I’ve trod, a sanctuary of space with fellow rabbits.

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