Hutchmoot 2014: Re-entry


The fifth annual Hutchmoot has come to an end.

It’s hard to compare one Hutchmoot to another because each one has had such a different flavor, but this year was one of my favorite of the bunch. From Luci Shaw’s keynote (not to mention her presence with us all weekend) to Jill Phillips’s concert to the Local Show to session after session that I wish I had been able to attend, we were overwhelmed by good stories, good music, good food, and time to think deeply about beauty, calling, obedience, and the Kingdom.

Now comes the tricky part. Now comes the daily grind, the reintegration into our vocations, our churches, our families, the long work of building the Kingdom brick by brick, book by book, meal by meal, day by day. I want to offer a resounding THANK YOU to all the volunteers, session leaders, kitchen masters, trash haulers, painters, organizers, and encouragers who gave so much of themselves this weekend, and to give each of you a chance to sound off on the impact of the weekend.

What were your favorite parts? What did God teach you? In the words of Stephen Trafton at the end of Encountering Colossians, “You know you have been changed. How?”


Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author. Andrew has released more than ten records over the past twenty years, earning him a reputation for songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. As an author, Andrew’s books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga, released in collectible hardcover editions through Random House in 2020, and his creative memoir, Adorning the Dark, released in 2019 through B&H Publishing.


  1. gllen

    I’m in Nashville for a couple more days – sitting now in the late afternoon sun – and trying NOT to unravel the mighty threads in which I have been wrapped the last four days…
    Luci Shaw & Charlie Peacock – 2 of my strongest, deepest mentors as an artist and as a follower of Jesus…
    I can only, at the moment, lift the highest & profoundest thanks/praise to God for the abundance and sheer profligacy of His blessing in providing such a sweet, intimate time with y’all!
    Phew! Wow! Yew haw!

  2. Nathaniel Miller

    I don’t know if it was my favorite, but I think my experience with the Hound of Heaven short film left a deep impression. I came from that thinking almost the same question as Stephen Trafton shared: what have I just encountered? What have I just experienced? I had no idea what all the images and words were meant to say, but I knew that every single frame was dripping with truth and deep storytelling beauty. I had been changed. I realize now that it was just a sampling – that all of Hutchmoot had left me in that same wondrous state.

    It wasn’t so much what I learned as what I remembered, what has been revived in my heart. The love of God has invaded every nook and cranny of his creation. He has invaded not just my heart, but my eyes, my ears, my fingers, my tongue. He has invaded our songs, our stories, our art. He has invaded our meals, our communities, our homes. Rich Mullins said it best when he said that God’s love was a reckless, raging fury – it cannot be tamed or contained. I want to explore that beauty wherever He reveals it, then share its goodness with others.

    As we scatter to our homes, our work, our communities, I can’t think of a better picture of what we are to do with Hutchmoot than this scene. It still brings tears to my eyes:

  3. Ron Block


    I loved the conversations I had, Doug’s Chesterton talk, Rebecca Reynolds and Jonathan Rogers on C.S. Lewis, and Luci Shaw, and doing the hymnody session with Rebecca and Kevin Twit. Jill’s music was beautiful, and the songwriter concert was fun – so much variety. I loved Lewis’s food, and especially en-joyed dinner on Saturday night, in which I saw the veil pulled aside a bit and the glory of joy spill out through everyone. There is a childlikeness to being at Hutchmoot, and there was sadness, too.

    Hutchmoot is a weekend where everyone is allowed to be fully human, in the best sense of the word, and as a result Christ shines in and through the community. It reminds me that this world conceals an eternity of beauty, and that being human, allowing others to be so, and doing my work well are ways I can poke a hole in the curtain to let light into the world.

  4. Helena

    It was your (borrowed) illustration during the final session that clarified the weekend for me. You talked about the pastor sitting at his desk, about the family on the other side of the window. The mother was concerned with (and disgusted with) herself. The children glanced at their reflections only briefly before leaning in to peer through the glass, to see what was on the other side.

    Last year I was the mother. I was crippled by concern about myself, my lack of skill and knowledge, about whether or not I could find a place in this community. This year, there wasn’t much time to worry about that. There were too many faces to see, too much beauty behind the glass. People, people everywhere, all with stories to tell, all hurting, all hungry for a word of encouragement. I’m worn out, but I did a better thing this year, allowing myself to see them.

    After the last note of the Doxology finally finished its sounding, I took a minute to look around the room. What a gorgeous group of people! So, so bright.

  5. Kristen P

    This is the first time in a few years that I have had to miss Hutchmoot, but it does my soul good to see old and new faces finding such peace, welcome, and home at Hutchmoot this year. I love seeing your stories, even if you feel like they are stammering out of you. Please keep sharing the light that you found so that it might find its way into the darkened corners of our homes even as we read this.

  6. Aimee Bumgarner

    I am still sitting here in a post-Hutchmoot glow, remembering the beautiful faces, sparkling eyes, elevated conversation, amazing food, and warm hospitality shared by everyone there. It’s like drinking a bottle of fine wine without the nasty hangover. It may take a few days for me to find the words to even begin to describe what this weekend meant to me, but for now, does anyone know of a good tattoo parlor in the western North Carolina/east Tennessee region? Preferably a Sacred Heart of Jesus franchise? I may wait a few more decades, but I like to plan ahead. Luci Shaw is my new “It” girl. Thank you for bringing her to us.

  7. Alister Hill

    Nashville rear-view ‘moot done boo-hoo
    Chicago bound to home and hound
    Brains full to brim but light is dim
    Thinking must wait data collate

    Simple answers Ewok dancers
    Lewis Graham (what a may-un)
    Provided meals invoked squeals
    Feasting bunnies have full tummies

    Listening learning loving yearning
    Sharing crying kneeling flying
    Laughing smoking running soaking
    Talking spending breaking mending

    Lots of hugging little bugging
    Crowds in narthex (yay for Amex)
    Gandalf beckoned – wait a second…
    Still’s ‘All Things New’! What should I do?

    Sold out paintings induce faintings
    Piles of albums prevent doldrums
    Layers of books demand close looks
    Rabbit Room bags and pipes and flags…

    I’m dreaming now, so take a bow
    Hutchmoot ’14 has gone and been
    You’ll all be missed… (you get the gist)
    And I too like dandelions.

  8. Carrie

    I will have more to say, but first, an anecdote:

    One of my favorite HM moments was a brief conversation with Jonathan Rogers and his son Lawrence. When I handed Jonathan a stack of my books to sign, he asked if I’d met Lawrence. I had not, so I turned to him and struck up conversation (in part so as not to awkwardly watch JR signing, trying to read his messages upside down).

    “Lawrence, hello!” I said. “Where are you in life? What’s your story?”
    Lawrence took a breath. “Well, it’s really a coming-of-age tale.”
    “Yes?” I was already delighted at the direction this conversation was taking. “What genre would you say? Drama? Horror? Comedy?”
    “Comedy, I think. Maybe even a Romantic Comedy,” Lawrence said.
    Jonathan, was distracted for a moment from his signing. He looked up. “Romantic Comedy!? What don’t I know about?”
    I ignored the anxious father. “Ah, I see.” I said to Lawrence. “And the soundtrack? What style? Bluegrass? Pop? Southern Rock?”
    Lawrence shook his head. “K-Pop,” he stated. “Definitely K-Pop.”

  9. John Palmer Gregg

    For me I was struck by the loneliness of the attendees, myself included, and how we all seem to be longing for something that seems just out of reach, something we feel intrinsically that we have lost as individuals and as a people.

    I keep coming back to thinking of community and home, and something we have lost since the Fall. Lewis said it best in ‘The Last Battle:’ “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”

    I believe that longing is the yearning of our hearts to return to Eden, to try and bring back the perfectness of God’s original creation. In particular, I believe that there is a stronger yearning from those of us that create and love the creations of others. We ache for what was lost more than most, often without even knowing what exactly it is we have been missing. We are driven to try and reintroduce the glory of the original creation in a culture that doesn’t see or understand that something was lost.

    That is what I saw in Nashville this past weekend. It was a pale reflection of the kind of home and community we lost, and filled me with excitement that one day we will all be in our real country, our real home.

  10. Christina Rouse

    Hutchmoot was such a different experience for me this year – much freer and full of peace – which was unexpected since I have been struggling through some difficult decisions. It was as if God were confirming that it is ok for me to be lost as long as He knows where I am. No surprise that Wendell Berry can express it better than I can.

    “It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

    Thanks to all for showing God’s love through both the joy and sorrow of your lives.

  11. Todd Gwennap

    As I transition back from Nashville to Eastern North Carolina, I am still processing what happened to me at Hutchmoot. I came into the “famously undefinable” weekend with undefinable expectations—certain it would be an enjoyable experience but uncertain about what that might mean. Tired and numb from a difficult few years, I hoped Hutchmoot might rekindle something in my weary soul. It did not take long to deliver.

    From Andrew’s opening reflections on desire, to the first shared meal together, to Fr. McKenzie gently dismantling my presumptions, to the first session with Jonathan Rogers and Rebecca Reynolds, I was soon overwhelmed. Not overwhelmed with information, but overwhelmed by desires long dormant. I left the session on C.S. Lewis and desire with a chasm of longing yawning in my chest. That one session was more than I expected from the entire weekend. And it was just the beginning.

    Friends, I could go on, but I’m still not entirely certain what the Holy Spirit did in and to me through a beautiful time in community with God’s People. The edges of my numbness have been softened. A longing for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful has reawakened in my soul. But perhaps most importantly, I re-enter normalcy with a revitalized desire to follow a beautiful Savior into the brokenness of this world. And in that brokenness, I now expect beauty.

    “And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.”

  12. Jennifer B.

    I love that there’s no small talk at Hutchmoot. Introductions are just a launching pad into deep conversation. It’s just one of the many things that make it a dream come true for this introvert.

  13. Ming-Wai Ng

    I tired more easily this year, after the first day it felt like I was treading water constantly, fighting to keep my head above water. I placed a lot of self imposed expectations on myself, so I often felt as if I was straining to pretend like I was not as mentally exhausted as I actually was.

    So to those people who came up and said hello and I greeted you with a glazed over eyes or frightened look and then awkwardly stumbled over my words and tripped across the questions, it wasn’t you, it was all me. I am introverted and the crowd got to me earlier this year.

    So I guess that being said, it is no surprise that so many of my favorite moments this year about Hutchmoot happened outside of the hub of activity, in the margins.
    They happened in living rooms.

    They happened around breakfast tables set for four or at the same table eating pizza generously slathered with cheese and listening to people spin music on a guitar.

    They happened in the quiet of a walk between beautiful houses and trees shyly slipping into autumn gowns.

    They happened in hallways and at meals, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Always having the wonderful opportunity to hear more of their story.

    They were found in the arms of the people who have been and still are fiercely encouraging and love like a whirlwind you can’t help getting swept into.

    They happened when sheer exhaustion drives you to flee the crowd and a concert and find a quiet space curled up on a couch corner with friends who are brave enough to be vulnerable and give you the courage to be vulnerable in return.

    And as old friendships were strengthened and new friendships were spun, I recognized again and again the sparkle in the eyes of those people who belong to the tribe of Jacob.

    And I am so, so, so very grateful.

  14. Andrew Gauggel

    I was so blown away by Hutchmoot; I wrote this poem about one of the strongest images of the weekend and the tension of coming home.

    “The Rehearsal Dinner of the Lamb”

    I felt free on retreat.
    Like I could smile and really mean it.
    Like I could laugh but not need to.
    Like those friends had been awaiting me,
    And my countrymen—of the long lost
    And yet to come kingdom—had
    Lent me their ears and I filled them.
    I spoke my heart without shame
    And heard the “Amen” in their eyes.

    The Amen of knowing our share in this:
    The Rehearsal Dinner of the Lamb, and
    The ache of the cold night. Staring east
    We long for the coming Bridegroom.

    I feel afraid of retreat.
    Like I can’t stand against the darkness.
    Like I can’t fight the inward curve.
    Like the roots of my passionless self
    Are still there and I—at any moment—
    Might turn tail, run from this holy pain, and
    Numb myself. Lord, shake my passions free.
    And then brazenly I will sing of life.
    I will! And right in the face of death too.

  15. Jud

    For me, Hutchmoot is aging like a fine beverage. At first the flavors are bright and powerful, overwhelming to the palette. Each one is an island unto itself. The first sip is amazing, but it’s hard to consume an entire glass in one sitting.

    But give it time, and things change. Flavors mellow and merge in a perfect balance. There is no mind-blowing experience at first taste, but it’s not missed, because what follows is a depth of rich flavor that endures to the last drop.

    To another five years, my friends. Cheers.

  16. Rebecca Reynolds

    This was my fourth Hutchmoot.

    I remember being so scared the first year; it almost burned to be in an environment with so little pretense. After decades of complaining that people were not authentic, that they didn’t care about important things, I finally stepped into a parallel world that made sense to me. To look around and find myself in a group of my own kind was beautiful but overwhelming. Not only did my brain jive with this crowd, but we also shared a common longing that existed somewhere even deeper inside me. I had to run and hide several times that weekend, just because it was such a shock to fit after a lifetime of being lonely. It was too much to take in at once.

    I’ve never recovered from the wonder of Hutchmoot. Though it becomes more familiar every year, it also becomes sweeter. Hutchmoot is like returning home after a long, exhausting journey.

    This year several people I love were absent, and I felt that loss. I kept looking for their faces, even though I knew they wouldn’t show up. My heart was heavy because I knew some of the situations that were preventing friends from arriving: health problems, job problems, family problems. I think this is the sort of sadness that shows the heart of Hutchmoot, though. It’s not just a conference. It’s not just a place to go or a thing to do. It’s a coming together of the beloved, and we are given the sweet love of Christ for one another.

    The time was too short, and this made me sad as well. There were at least 200 conversations that I didn’t get to have. I saw new faces, old faces passing in a blur. The eyes on those faces were so open; it bothered me to need to rush along.

    My favorite moments…

    I loved listening to Jonathan Rogers’s talk on Friday morning. I filled up a page of notes, though I would like to read more on this subject from him. I loved hearing Doug TenNapal and Ron talk about Chesterton and MacDonald. It was a delight to work with Kevin Twitt and pick his brain about hymnody. And I got to have dinner with Luci Shaw! Oh, that dear woman! I don’t know how she knew exactly what I needed to hear, but she did. I wanted to take her home.

    I also liked listening to Arthur Alligood talk. Georgians have a fine way of speaking, don’t they?

    More than all of this, though, I loved the simple living presence of HM. I loved seeing heads bowed in conversation. I loved the delight expressed over meals. I loved the twinkle in Lewis Graham’s eyes when he brought out something hidden from the kitchen. I loved hearing bits of songs, and conversations, and creation in the background, murmurings that I couldn’t fully comprehend, but they established a spirit of warmth and safety. It is a handmade glory that reminds me of falling asleep on my grandmother’s porch swing as a child, stories and songs rolling around above me. Oh, I love Hutchmoot. I am so thankful to have been there. I wish it could never end.

  17. redheadkate

    My favorite moments always come back to the people and the conversations. Such an entertaining range of topics – from scarlet pimpernels & unicorns to heartache & house concerts to redneck wedding receptions and on and on. We found joy and beauty in each other.

    A counselor recently told me that some people wither away without enough beauty in their lives. Hutchmoot fills up those lifeless spots, turning our hearts back to flesh.

  18. Aaron Wolcott

    Hutchmoot 2014

    We sit in golden light
    Gathered in from the four winds
    Out of the rain, our weary plight
    Left at the door.

    We found a road that led here
    Knowing this journey
    Winds and bends in ways not clear
    But still somehow sure.

    And to be sure we meet
    The hopeful, the doubtful, the hurting
    Gathered at The Artist’s feet
    Listening, learning, healing.

    Together we find what is true –
    We are meant to be here.
    Knit together with sacred glue;


    My soul is enlarged!
    Now I want to write poems and learn to play the guitar after I read all the books I bought. A dear friend of mine’s father married Luci and Harold Shaw. I heard John Hoyte , Luci’s husband , at L’Abri in the 1990’s. Luci had to cancel because she was sick. SO this was a wish come true.

  20. Aden S

    I keep seeing all the comments about how wonderful it was, and I must admit that I’m slightly envious of the fellowship y’all had together. Hopefully I can attend next year!

    I do have a question. Please pardon my ignorance, but will the sessions from Hutchmoot ’14 be posted on here or as podcasts through iTunes to listen to for those of us who weren’t there? Or is that a feature only for members? I’ve been listening to some of the sessions of Hutchmoot ’12 via podcasts and I’ve been blessed immensely. I would love to hear more and see your guys’ podcast channel get updated! 😉

    Loving the feedback from those that went. Makes me homesick just reading the comments. It’s a comfort to know that with Christ, and His children, that I’m never really alone in this dark world. Sadly, it feels like that a lot of the time.

    Blessings to y’all!

  21. Janna. B

    If you made a bar graph for my first year at HM, it would have two bars. The first is how much I poured out and the second is how much I soaked up. The first bar is way shorter than the second. This year the opposite was true, but I did not come home feeling empty. Not at all. In a weird way, I was simply able to give more. Like the person who told the story about being on a mission trip where they gave away 50 T-shirts to 200 people and everyone got one. The original amount was multiplied by the Holy Spirit.

    When we read the comment cards after it was all over, the thing I kept hearing was “I’ll never be the same again.” The thought that new people can come every year and experience the same thing I did my first year makes me feel like I’m part of something truly special. May the blessings continue to multiply, as our rabbit family continues to grow — numerically and spiritually.

  22. Karen Buck

    This was my third year coming down to Hutchmoot, and my 14 year-old daughter Claire came along this time. With uncharacteristic bravery, my sweet introvert Claire pursued a place at the table, to experience for herself what happens when this community gathers. I guess Hutchmoot brings out uncharacteristic bravery in all of us wondering, wandering folk who are drawn in.

    We found friendships deepen while scrubbing pans with Cynda Pierce that first night. I was encouraged by the Slatens and Randall Goodgame and others who reminded me that songwriting is service and obedience (I have hang-ups about performing and sharing what I write…) Jill Phillips’ beautiful album and concert reminded me how we can encourage friends who are hurting with our music.

    In returning, I am energized to carve out space for my church community to create and enjoy God through the work of their hands and imagination. It was great to talk with folks like Mark Proctor, discussing what we do to honor God and our churches in worship leading.

    We had a hard time leaving on Monday. I mean we literally missed our flight to Rochester. I mistakenly printed out only one set of boarding passes and waited in an unusually long security line before realizing what I’d done. We scrambled back to ticketing to gather the missing pass, crawled forward again in that painfully slow line, and desperately ran like crazy people to the gate to find we had failed and missed it. We booked next connection to Baltimore (yay!), but that plane ended up getting stuck on the ground in Louisville because of the storm.

    Then Aimee Guest happened to text me, checking on our progress in the midst of that severe weather. She and Matt welcomed us to stay with her beautiful family for the evening and we were so blessed by this bonus time of fellowship and fun. Eucatastrophe! The Guests are such a treasure. As we sat there, cozy and eating ice cream and warm brownies, Claire remarked, “Mercy is a friend picking you up from the airport when you mess up. Grace is them giving you brownie sundaes too!” I am imprinted with that final living parable of my ridiculous failure and God’s persistent goodness, and we are gratefully full to the brim with thanksgiving to the One who holds everything together in Christ.

  23. Chris Yokel

    I think the main thing I came away with this year was gratitude. Two years ago I had huge expectations about my first Hutchmoot, and it amazingly exceeded them. I was just in awe that this was actually real. It was also the time and place that I met my now wife, so I’m sure that contributed to the magical feeling. But after it was over I was in a bit of a funk. I wanted to keep the experience going so bad. I wanted to move to Nashville and live in Hutchmoot all the time.

    Of course, that wasn’t realistic, and I’ve learned that since then. S.D. Smith made a comment two years ago that made me thing. Essentially he said, don’t just move to Nashville to be part of the community there, build community where you are.

    This year I was grateful for the chance to return to Hutchmoot as a kind of home. But I was also grateful to return back to my own home and plot of earth. Jen and I went down to one of our favorites spots along the Westport River to read and admire the fall foliage, and I felt like my experience at Hutchmoot had reinvigorated my sense of appreciation for what I was seeing. It’s like Chesterton’s analogy in Orthodoxy of a man traveling the earth in order to rediscover his own home.

  24. Dave Bruno

    I really enjoyed talking with Elijah Brewer about his Warden and the Wolf King sea dragon smoking pipe design. Seriously.

    But also seriously, it was clear quite a few people brought some hurts to Hutchmoot this year. I am just so grateful to all of you who are willing to be vulnerable and willing to be empathetic, and eager to let God’s grace get between our wounds. I do not even know if “let God’s grace get between our wounds” makes sense, but I am going to leave it as is, in case it is profound. Hopefully you know sort of what I am trying to say.

  25. Joseph Barbier

    First Hutchmoot. Can’t say thank you enough to all the volunteers for your sacrifice, time, effort. Don’t know everyone who volunteered… but thanks, Lewis! Thanks, Hannah! Thanks, Brewers! Thanks, Pete!

    If there was a theme for me, it was, “Listen.” Someone said that instead of trying to be interesting, the most interest-ing people are those who are most interest-ed.

    Reading folks like Lewis, Tolkien, Berry, and others…there’s an ongoing conversation happening. I find I wanna speak something worthwhile into that conversation. With words, yes…with art….with family…. with life. But as any conversationalist will say… first things first, gotta listen and ask questions.

    In sessions and conversations, that’s what I was brought back to again and again.

    Also, there are several authors I’ve gotten stuck on—as in, found too difficult, boring, or my palette isn’t trained for. Or maybe I’ve just never tried. Chesterton, MacDonald, Eugene Peterson, among others. This weekend, in session and conversation, I found encouragement to go back to those authors and try again.

    In the Chesterton/MacDonald session, it was encouraging to hear that many folks find both of these guys difficult to read. Especially for readers living in our culture. Somebody else said it well… We live in a culture where skimming the surface is the norm. We don’t have time for long answers. Give. It. To. Me. In. Bullets. …And so it takes some real effort to go pearl diving into some of these authors for wisdom that can’t be expressed in only 140 characters or less.

    Thanks…I’ll give them another shot.

  26. Kirk Bierens

    It wouldn’t make it into any top list of mine as a whole, but the movie As Good As It Gets contains a line which has resounded with me, post-Hutchmoot. Of course if you’ve seen the movie, you know the line; it was the most meaningful thing outré Melvin could say to Carol, “you make me want to be a better man.”

    It took this second time to realize, but I as returned home, committed again to ideals and values the year had weathered dull, I see it better now. The best way I can describe Hutchmoot’s effect on me is to say it makes me want to be a better man. And by ‘Hutchmoot,’ I mean you. You all inspire me to breathe a little deeper, pause longer, see better, and love more furiously. But it doesn’t just affect my art…or maybe it does and the art affects it all, I don’t know. Either way I find myself wanting to love my family better, evict darkness more resolutely, and stay the course more intently.

    This is a curious thing from a little patchwork gathering in Nashville that’s nearly impossible to describe. Or maybe it’s the most obvious sort of thing there is. -To share craft, song, faith, laughter, and a table with others should always lead one toward assent I suppose. So there you go Hutchmoot, it’s my highest compliment, you make me want to be a better man.

  27. Jennifer Hildebrand

    I’m still processing really. This was my first Hutchmoot, and I can’t explain how welcomed I felt, even among friends who had clearly known each other well for a while. What a blessing to have several days among people seeking beauty and community, wanting so very much to share that beauty and Christ’s love. I suppose that’s what strikes me most about Hutchmoot — the sharing. I initially signed up because I thought it would be a gathering of artists who work I love and, honestly, study. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn and glean from their knowledge and practices. But the fact that these folks purposefully took time out of their own lives and career pursuits to pour into others, to share their “secrets” of the trade and just exist together for a while was such a blessing. It felt very much like the true Body, building one another up for His glory. We are comforted that we may comfort. We are gifted that we may give and blessed that we may bless. And it happened, for sure, during Hutchmoot. And, sweet mercy, I was there! 😉

  28. Leanne Bruno

    This year’s Hutchmoot found Dave and I attending as “staff,” knowing that we’d be helping and serving. Help and serve we did – kitchen duties, trash emptying, errand-running to Walmart and Baja Burrito. We attended much less of the programming than in years’ past. I missed being able to slow down during the “content delivery” time.

    But in some ways, the experience was just as sweet. I’m not going to say that each and every person that attends Hutchmoot feels like a kindred spirit. I edged away from a few uncomfortable conversations and awkward encounters, and bore with some others with as much grace as I could summon.

    But by and large, it’s the people who make it great. The programming is top-notch, but I loved it even though I missed most of the sessions. The one session I did catch (most of) was Rebecca Reynolds and Jonathan Rogers talking about longing, the blue flower, and sehnsucht, and I think it’s that sense of longing that draws folks to Hutchmoot and binds them together. It’s the “joy…as poignant as grief” that JRR Tolkien refers to, and this year there seemed to be a lot of grief among the crowd. Sharing the grief, offering comfort, pointing to the real, unseen world. That’s what the conversations were mixed with, even in the midst of scrubbing dishes, scooping up food, lighting candles, and pouring fruit tea.

  29. Chris Whitler

    This was my 3rd moot and I had a blast.

    First of all, I drove from Northern California with 2 others. And I felt like Hutchmoot started on the road. I finished The Warden And The Wolf King somewhere in Missouri and wept like a baby. Like, Kings Cross and The Last Battle kind of weeping. We also listened to A Liturgy, A Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band crossing Kansas.

    But my favorite part of this year was the fact that I could bring my son. He was visibly shaken to meet Fr. McKenzie on the first night. Josh is really interested in film and he watches every One Minute Review. Of all the celebrity in Nashville that he could be shaken by, my son admires a movie reviewing Anglican priest. So great!

    The sessions were great but my best “sessions” were the conversations with others around tables and piping circles, in line for food and offline in the living room. One session was quite precious, you had to wear a medical mask to attend.

    Thanks Rabbit Room, once again, for an overflowing cup.

    Oh, and on the way home, I started reading A Million Little Ways by moot attendee Emily Freeman. It’s really good and I’m taking my time to digest it. I also started a sci-fi, fantasy series that I bought at McKay’s!

  30. Bailey Gillespie

    The Color of Hope: Hutchmoot 2014

    If gray is the color of hope, may we be brave enough to look it in the face.

    All our lives, we’ve rubbed frantic circles over the cold glass and squinted to see what’s beyond. A brief landscape – but always disappearing, as our own exhalation fogs up the glass.

    Last week, out the windows blew a wild and wet world, full of empty streets and dying leaves. Shivering maples with cinnamon bark and brittle bushes dreamed of spring when the world is warm and washed in jade.

    But now, gray.

    Though cold outside, a holy fire lit the rooms of the old stone church, and we got caught in its yellow dance. Bringing our despair and delights, we stood shyly in the doorway, hoping to touch the flickering fire-light. Slowly, it caught the sleeve of a songwriter, a chef, a student and mother, her baby Joy swaddled tight. The room glowed with burning faces that spread through its hallways like candles on Christmas Eve. With shaking boots and lonely hearts and arms made to hold and hug, together we drew close to the light.

    A rabbit on a hill cannot be hidden.

    On Sunday morning, our song rose to the rafters, and the flame grew too hot for the room to hold. So we scattered in silence, once more into gray.

    And so we hope.

    Be warned autumn sky, there is a holy lantern in Nashville that means to take over the night.

    *To see the photos that are supposed to complement the post, visit the original post. 🙂

  31. Mark Proctor

    Meeting new friends and catching up with old ones was tops! I am in wonder at seeing a different facet of Jesus in each brother and sister in Christ 🙂

    Ron Block and Doug TenNapel’s session on MacDonald/Chesterton was particularly insightful. Chesterton and Shaw’s vigorous/humor-filled debates were a delight, and Ron Block’s gentle reminders from MacDonald about obedience were timely.

    The sweetness of kindred spirits is oh-so-good, but absence from my current place of sojourn certainly makes my heart grow fonder of those The Father has placed me with right now. Thank you Russ Ramsey for the reminder from Psalms- “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”

  32. Dawn

    Better late than never….

    I eased into my second Hutchmoot slowly, breaking in the weekend with a Wednesday night concert in Nashville. I sipped a hard cider while Andrew Peterson and JJ Heller played songs that had soothed my soul over the rockiness of the last year. Thursday morning I joined a small crowd in the warehouse behind Baja Burrito to learn from Jonathan Rogers about translating memory into story. I went for a walk through the neighborhood that hugs Church of the Redeemer.

    And then it was time. I only came in once this year. I didn’t need any coaxing. I greeted old friends with hugs and met first timers with a gentle nudge toward the registration table. I shucked corn for that night’s dinner. But this year, Hutchmoot’s magic wasn’t in its sessions. It wasn’t in its music or its books. It wasn’t in an art project or a prayer. It wasn’t even in the amazing food. This year’s magic was summed up by S.D. Smith: What my brother does for me is reflect my story back to me with mercy and grace, so that I can see myself, more and more, the way God sees me.

    This year I got to see my story reflected back to me over and over again, with grace and mercy. And even more than that, in a way that affirmed that God has been working – powerfully, graciously, kindly, faithfully- in my life over this last year. It was teling with a friend how sharing her story last year impacted my story this year. It was surprising myself by being brave enough to ask Luci Shaw if the seat next to her at the dinner table was open. It was a late night chat with a friend who has walked with me through much of this last year (she was gracious enough to forgive me…and even laugh…when I fell asleep in the middle of a sentence). It was hearing several old friends comment on the difference they saw in me between last year and this year. “You have this caterpillar to butterfly thing going on,” one of them said.

    Hutchmoot was all those things. But when the last notes of the Doxology faded into the rafters of the sanctuary, I was ready to see the skyline of Chicago. I was ready to be woken up by a little grey kitten playing with my hair. I was ready to see my new community at my church. For me, this year, the sweetest thing about Hutchmoot, was realizing I was going home. And I was glad.

    “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that that Lord is good; blessed is the one that takes refuge in him.” – Psalm 34: 4-8

  33. Brenda Branson

    This was my third year at HM. The first year I was scared and alone, seeking a sense of family and home. I found it, or maybe it found me. Last year HM was like a wonderful homecoming, full of love and affirmation, strengthening old friendships and finding new ones.

    This year was one of clearer vision and gratitude. The thought that was pervasive throughout HM was “Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be here among your people again, MY people, such awesome people who love each other so well.”

    HM is the place where I have felt loved more than any other place–not the place itself, but the people who are there. As a recipient of such amazing love, I want to share it with others more than ever before in my words and actions.

    For the past several years I’ve been searching for a faith community in my hometown where I would feel connected and accepted. HM has helped me recognize what that looks like, and I’m so excited to have recently found my place in a small church in KY. For the first time when leaving HM, I didn’t dread going back to my home church. It was a joy to sense that same loving spirit at church as I did at HM.

    I’ve always been bewildered when people express an interest in my story or have affirming words to say. I don’t know how to process that, but I’m learning slowly to receive it as a reflection of myself that I’ve never seen before. HM is helping me believe those affirmations may actually be true.

    AP and Pete (and everyone who makes HM possible), thank you so much for HM. I hope whenever you are weary of all the effort that goes into this event you will remember that you have provided a taste of the goodness of God to weary travelers who need to be reminded of grace.

    Wish I had words to adequately express my heart, but just know you all are loved and appreciated with great affection and thanksgiving.

  34. Abby Pickle

    There the storm
    Shook the window panes
    Wet thumping the glass.
    I could feel it in the paths.
    There was something in your eyes,
    Creature harried
    By more than one attack.
    Sometimes you spoke of it,
    Mostly I am guessing.
    Something in the way we stood,
    Like a man beset by changing winds,
    By hail and rain and dark,
    Who suddenly,
    Steps into a cave
    Into soft firelight.

    I can feel it pounding the edges,
    Pounding eternity.
    There are the terrors of God
    And the terrors God allows.
    There are the myriad stars
    Spinning in the dark.
    Spinning in the dark.
    The tons and tons of element
    Combusting themselves,
    And hurling themselves
    And spinning in the dark.
    And the world is spinning,
    Day and Night.
    And men are shooting nails into wood.
    And the wind is taking up the leaves.
    And the clocks
    Are pendulum swinging
    Tick. Tick. Tick.

    Our wanderings came together,
    And in our fierce and sudden conversation,
    There was something small and green.
    Softly spoken words
    In a sphere
    Surrounded by crowd noise.
    Something quiet and still
    In the that way you stood.
    It is a thing alive in the storm
    Pushing roots through dark soil.
    Something small as a mustard seed,
    A clump of mud,
    Or a scrap of seaweed.
    As small as a smile.
    As small as a smile.
    Like God cupping his hands
    And breathing on clay.
    And I don’t understand,
    I don’t understand.
    There is silence like a strand
    That threads through who we are.
    And the way it waits.
    The way it waits,
    Is hinting
    That it was made
    To rise and grow and spread.

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