Hutchmoot Retreat: Back from the Desert


First of all, let me apologize to Andy Gullahorn for the awful Beyond the Frame joke you see in the picture above; I stole it from Sally Zaengle so you can blame her. That’s Kathleen Norris being a good sport with the guitar.

We left for Texas on Thursday morning with quite a bit of anxiety. The opportunity to hold a “Hutchmoot” event at Laity Lodge was a dream come true, but none of us knew how well it would work. Would people recognize it as a uniquely Rabbit-Room-ish event? Would the community aspect translate in the same way it has at past Hutchmoots? Would the more spacious program still leave people fulfilled? Would Kathleen Norris feel at home and enjoy her time with us? All these and many other questions were on my mind when I got off the plane. And now, after three and a half days in the beauty of the Texas hill country, after lots of Psalms and poetry, after tables spread with great food including some legendary scalloped potatoes, and after lots of great conversation, I’ll say that the answer to all those questions is a resounding “Yes!”

Thank you to all who came and participated so richly. Thanks to all the speakers and musicians (Andrew Peterson, Jennifer Trafton, Jill Phillips, Eric Peters, Andy Gullahorn, Paul Soupiset), you guys were fantastic; Saturday night’s concert was one of the highlights of the weekend. And I’d especially like to thank Kathleen Norris, who had no real idea what she was getting into, but who came with curiosity and a beautiful, earthy humility. Her humor and wisdom were an absolute delight and it was a privilege to be able to sit at her feet and learn for a few days.

Now that we’re home, I’m anxious again—but not with questions. I went to the desert drained, but now I’ve soaked up the poetry of the weekend and I’m full. I’m anxious to write—and that’s a good thing.

I’m also anxious to get to work finalizing plans for Hutchmoot 2014. The dates are October 9-12. We expect registration to begin sometime in mid-March. We’ll see you in October.


Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


  1. Peter B

    That joke was… considerably not terrible.

    I’m glad it went so well for everyone. Now to get my clicking finger warmed up for March…

  2. Jade

    Nate, my husband, asked me what I would do if I didn’t get a ticket to hutchmoot during registration. I responded with “I shall buy my plane ticket in faith and see what happens.”

    Excited for your rejuvenation, Pete! What a joy to hear, buddy. Nate and I plan to go to next year’s retreat. Love this land of ours! Tejas win!

  3. Alyssa Ramsey

    Pete, is it pretty safe to expect another HM Retreat next year? Or is it too early to say? I have to choose between Nashville and Laity, and I don’t want to pass up one only to find out the other isn’t happening.

  4. Tom Murphy

    I might venture to say that we hadn’t experienced “Shine Your Light on Me” correctly until the moment we sung it from the seats as a circle of friends. But, I might be wrong.

    It was one of my favorite moments of the retreat. Quite unforgettable. Humility and Beauty dancing with one another between every note…

  5. Matthew Clark

    Pete, it was a great weekend. And Kathleen was a great fit, at least certainly for me where I am. Loved being with you all. I’m eager to get to work on some writing too, but feeling the ache of missing folks.

  6. Kimberlee Conway Ireton

    Saturday night’s concert was one of the highlights of the weekend for me, too. It wasn’t just the music, great as that was; it was the camaraderie of the musicians. They clearly enjoyed one another, and that was a gift as great as their music, simply to see this community at work and play together.

    It awakened my dormant longing for that kind of community in my own life, so one of the first things I did when I got home was send out 17 invitations to an evening of music/art/literature/theology—something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but never quite had the guts to. So thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone and into a new adventure. Like the retreat, this is an experiment. Fingers crossed that it will turn out as well as the retreat did 🙂

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