Hutchmoot 2015: Re-Entry


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I only just woke up.

Okay, that’s not quite true. But it’s almost true. Hutchmoot 2015 was just about as good as I could have hoped for, and I heard a lot of people say that they thought it was the best moot yet. I agree—which means I’d better get to work on HM 2016 right away lest someone be disappointed come next October.

I’ve already seen quite a few people sharing experiences and reflections on Facebook and Twitter, and I want to use this post to invite you to share them here as well. We want to collect those those thoughts in once place where everyone can have a chance to enjoy them. So leave us a comment. Let us know what you thought about the weekend. If you blogged about it, post a link. If you took pictures, post or link to those as well. We’re looking forward to hearing what you all took away from Hutchmoot 2015.

Thanks for the great weekend. I loved every minute.



  1. Lisa

    Blog post about my own re-entry here, though warning to the reader: this is in reference to my reentry into my very meaningful but at times very, very dark job.

    Also, possibly inexplicable Michigan Native references.

    The more generally accessible version is this: somebody referenced a line about feasts in Narnia being acts of war. This year’s moot was very much that feast: the Fat Tuesday treats before Lent, or the Thanksgiving meal before the long, cold winter that lies ahead.

    Thank you, all, for being my jelly biscuit.

  2. Jen Rose Yokel

    I love, love, loved Hutchmoot this year. I love it every time, but this one felt truly special, re-energizing, hopeful. Grateful for everyone who works so hard to make this happen. It’s my favorite weekend of the year.

    I haven’t quite written an in-depth recap, but here are a couple things on my blog…
    There’s Too Much Joy Here (written, unedited on my phone during a few quiet minutes in the living room):

    Leavings and Findings (slightly longer. about home and re-entry):

    I’m doing this experiment in blogging every day for a month, so there will probably be more. Hutchmoot’s still working on me. 🙂 Love everyone in that photo up there and many more who aren’t. Until next year!

  3. Sarah Geil

    Hutchmoot is fruit tea. Every meal, I fill the little cups with ice just a few minutes before the crowd descends. Dainty plastic cups don’t hold much, but in a way, that makes my self-appointed job easier. I scrape my fingers on the ice cubes. The tiny pokes don’t hurt much, but I can certainly tell they’re there. The same ice that does the cutting numbs the wounds. Then, I fill the cups.
    People who know Nashville or know Hutchmoot know that Baja Burrito’s fruit tea is a beverage to treat with a level of almost reverence. The new friends ask what it is, and I fumble the description, changing it with every person “Fruit tea—no, not fruity.” “It’s like orange juice and tea and something else.” “If I don’t like tea, will I like it?” they ask, and I shrug, “I think so, just try it.”
    So Hutchmoot is fruit tea. It’s hard to perfectly capture, but it quenches the thirst. Some understand it better than others. People who’ve been before know to love it. There are elements that can be described. Tea, the love and appreciation for art. Fruit, faith. But there’s something else that’s delightfully mystifying and has one returning again and again.
    But Hutchmoot is also a jelly biscuit. And Hutchmoot is Spring. Maybe, Hutchmoot is simply a metaphor we can’t yet understand helping us catch a glimpse of what is to come.

  4. Chris Yokel

    During my first Hutchmoot in 2012 I was just walking around in awe at the people I got to be with and the things I was hearing. It was like accidentally stumbling onto buried treasure and not believing my luck.

    My second Hutchmoot (2014) was weird because 1) I was now part of the staff of the Rabbit Room, and 2) I was wondering if I’d experience a let down after my euphoric experience of 2012. It felt like, to borrow a phrase from Matt Conner and Thomas McKenzie, being in liminal space.

    This year felt like home, like being settled, like I’d finally eased into some Hutchmooty self-identity, if that make sense.

  5. Carrie

    I keep using the word “rich” to describe this past weekend to people. I can’t think of a better one. It was rich in so many ways: rich with relationships, rich emotionally, rich spiritually. It was full of the riches of people and wisdom and food. I was deeply honored to be able to share with Russ Ramsey and David Mitchel as we delighted in the richness of baseball.

    Much of what I want to share of the weekend are the words of others, so I started there:

    But the words of others echoed themselves into a semblance of thoughts that I might be able to call my own. So my fuller thoughts on the weekend came together in “This Is My Story”:

    Pete – Thank you. To all who helped put this weekend together, thank you. To all who came, who threw the line of your story out into the emptiness, hoping someone would catch it, thank you.

  6. Rich Tuttle

    I hardly know where to start. There is just too much to talk about. Too much to ponder. Michael Card said we should always start with brokenness. How about rotting vegetation?

    Tolkien once said that stories grow like a seed from the ‘leaf mould’ of the mind. As I think about my time at Hutchmoot I can’t help but feel that my mind’s leaf mould has been greatly (that’s not a big enough word) enriched. Everything I heard, learned, conversed, experienced, are all going to be heaped up and settle and in due time I know things are going to grow.

    I knew that the Rabbit Room folks have had a great impact on me. Which, of course, is why I came. (Did anyone else have the same experience as me that Hutchmoot was like a paradox of feeling simultaneously ‘star-struck’ and ‘at home’?) But what I didn’t know, and happily discovered at Hutchmoot was how great of an impact Rabbit Room folks have actually had on me without even realizing it. It was almost eerie how I didn’t realize how great their contribution was to my leaf mould until I had come face to face with them. It’s like, I knew that certain leaf had always been here, that twig there, but I’d forgotten how it got there.

    Again, there is so much to say. I could probably go down 20 different trails right now, but I’ll go with one. I guess you could frame this as one answer to the prayer “God, show me something cool.”

    I saw Andrew Osenga in the narthex and so I headed over to chat. Andy played some songs at a church I was a part of about 5 years ago. After the show a group of us ate Kansas City barbeque and listened to a blues band tear it up at BB’s Lawnside BBQ. I figured we could chat and reminisce and I’d just say ‘hey’. Now for some reason, perhaps because I was re-living 5 years ago in my mind, for a moment I had totally forgotten Andy’s new career shift. But when he said something about touring in the past tense it recalled his career move to my mind and that’s when the random puzzle pieces of my mind suddenly came together. It’s always hard to re-create an instant realization, but here goes.

    Right smack dab in the middle of the conversation, as if a hammer fell on my head, I realized just how important of an impact Andy has had on not only my music, but how watching his life (that sounds creepy) has given me a profound personal revelation when it comes to making art. I don’t know if the conversation got awkward at that point, I tried to play it cool, but I simply just had to thank him and tell him (bumbling) how he has impacted me. I don’t know how it came off, but I certainly downplayed it to not sound like a weirdo. We finished up our chat and he convinced me to attend his session “Humility & Failure” which I’m not going to talk about but was awesome.

    So about this profound personal revelation. It came about in the spring of last year. I was in the middle of a songwriting project that was constantly being set aside for bigger things like my family and my job (for my family). Frustration was creeping in. Guilt at being frustrated was there too. Time to write was an issue, but it was always an issue. Other things cropped up too. Things like my computer needing fixed to record some songs but that money had to go to virtually everything else, bills, food, a broken A/C unit and everything in between. And as this was happening I heard a heartbreaking thing. Some high profile songwriters whom I greatly admired from my distance were getting a divorce.

    Now I don’t know details, nor do I want to linger on it, but I heard enough to make me realize that a man had let down his family. And an odd thing happened. For me, this event suddenly cast a shadow over his art. It might be ridiculous to think, and maybe even unfair of me, but I felt betrayed by his music.

    Now less than a week after I heard this news, Andrew Osenga announced his career shift on his blog ( ). In it he talks about how continuing the “touring/musician life….would mean more travel and more things pulling me from my family, which to me is a much deeper calling. I’ve come to a place where it feels I have to choose between providing for my family on the road or being with them at home.”

    To me the contrast couldn’t have been any more striking. And the odd thing happened again, only in reverse. For me, this event suddenly made all of Andy’s art bloom like spring. And just like that, my frustration that family life was ‘interfering’ with my art was beginning to fade. I saw how the frustration was merely the fruit of selfishness. I saw how selfishness infected the art of one and how love, real love, made another’s blossom. And then I began to see—like after naming your child you always notice someone else with the same name—that so many other artists I admired were ‘family’ men. Men like Tolkien and Lewis. Tolkien had a demanding job and four kids and his masterpiece had to take a ‘back seat’ to all of it. It amazed Lewis’ friends that he got any work done at all because he was constantly being called upon by Mrs. Moore and his drunk brother. They created in the cracks. But most importantly, they didn’t create at the expense of their family. I don’t know if I would be able to express what this revelation meant (means) to me. It was perhaps the most freeing discovery I have yet made as an artist. Like a prisoner who discovered a gaping hole in the wall, unguarded, with friends and mentors on the other side waiting.

    And so my profound personal revelation: Music (or art) made at the expense of my family is bad art.

    That maxim came from the leaf mould of my mind. At the time, it never dawned on me that Osenga was the spark. But it came full force like a flashback from a movie, right in the middle of the conversation we were having in the narthex. It was as if God tapped me on the shoulder at that moment, pointed to Andy and whispered in my ear, “That bit of leaf? Right there, that’s where it came from.”

    And that was part of the magic of Hutchmoot for me. In many ways it was like a rediscovery of how I interpret certain aspects of the world. Not only did Hutchmoot serve as a tune up, but it was like a weird surreal moment of peeking under my own hood to see how I work.

    After the session with Osenga and Shive, I snuck into the Sheer Face of Story session in time to hear Andrew Peterson say that Rich Mullins poured into him (aka became a big part of his leaf mould) and that he prayed that God might let him do the same to others. Well, doggone it. Prayer answered. He’d poured in to me (surely among countless others). One of the basic reasons that drew me to Hutchmoot in the first place was the influence Andrew Peterson has had on my life and music. I didn’t have the same “aha” moment with this Andrew as I did with the other, but maybe because I had more of the puzzle pieces figured out. But hearing him say that he asked God to do it made me feel like a walking answer to prayer. I had a brief thought that went something like, “Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been drawn here. Some young songwriter prayed a prayer back in the day and God chose to answer it, in part, through me.” And that’s far from being arrogant. More like awestruck and knees-a-tremblin’. And then feeling quite humbled (and star-struck at home) God gave me boldness enough to bumble a similar ‘thanks’ to this Andrew as well.

  7. Helena

    It’s too much. Words aren’t enough. Like all the best things, you just have to experience it.

    That said, I spent an inordinate amount of time this weekend marveling at Doug McKelvey’s brilliance. I was thunderstruck by his work, his humor and insight. I tried to tell him so, and I think I just made him feel weird.

  8. Carrie

    Helena – I’m right there with you on Doug. I’ve seen him at HM in the past. I’ve even listened to him share his work. And this year, he was a revelation. And I also bumblingly tried to tell him so and probably failed miserably.

    Thank you, Doug. Thanks for everything–from wit and humor, and wisdom and depth, to holding the dustpan while I swept into it.

  9. DougMc

    Helena & Carrie — Rest assured there was no bumbling on your parts nor feelings of weirdness on mine. I deeply appreciated the feedback and comments from each of you.

    [The real takeaway here is that I evidently need to spend some focused time in front of the mirror practicing the fine art of socially appropriate facial expressions for future conversations!]

    And on an unrelated Hutchmoot note, my discovery of the weekend was Arthur Alligood. I’d heard his name before, but never listened to his music. I’ve been listening to his music almost exclusively since then. So deeply good–and written from a place in the geography of the spirit that seems near the spot my own tents have been pitched these last eighteen months. It’s always a life-giving thing when someone else manages to give voice to the restless things stirring beneath the surface of your own soul.

  10. EmmaJ

    So much goodness. So very many thoughts are all jumbled in my head.

    I’ve written a little bit, but then I realized that what I wrote…was actually Part II. So now I have to go backwards and write Part I. Because, you know, I like to do things in an orderly and straightforward fashion : )

  11. whipple

    Some feasts are acts of war? Indeed. War against what?

    If there is a personal demon that got some comeuppance this past week, it was that of Pragmatism. I often find a subtle vein of utilitarian thinking running through the Church (I speak generally in order not to accuse any one church in particular). Being in loving, Christian relationships with other people in my church is wonderful. They offer vast stores of wisdom and ask excellent questions. Many who are close to me are deep believers in the Holy Ghost’s capacity to speak through the Body of Christ – a belief sorely lacking in such a cynical world as ours. I’m happy to be surrounded by that company.

    However, in the midst of asking good questions of each other – often in regards to very salt-of-the-earth decisions like jobs and car loans – we can easily forget the prodigality of the Lord. Perhaps it’s more my own proclivity than that of any particular local church (though I assume I’m not alone in my temptations). Beside the jar of sundry paintbrushes on my desk sit two different ledgers. My spirit wanders somewhere in between, but the checkbook register exerts its own sort of gravity. I put my nose the the grindstone and forget to pay close attention to the mountains skipping like lambs and the trees of the field clapping their hands.

    Over time, practical and necessary things make a white noise, like a UV light, that can drown out the sounds of beauty. That is, until you find yourself immersed in such a cacophony of delight* as Hutchmoot. At that point, you sit in a pew, surrounded by people you’ve mostly just met, and you try not to ugly cry when Walt Wangerin says, “Again,” or when Andrew sings, “Don’t you want to thank someone for this?” or when you and the saints beside you read together, “Oh morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs.”

    So, thank you, all of you, for a timely, delicious, and extravagant reminder of God’s grace.

    * “Delight” to be read, “Lanier’s raspberry cordial.”

  12. Gllen

    My Hutchmoot 2015 experience was a gift of being able to pray for y’all down there in. Nashville.
    Having been at Hutchmoot last year. I anticipated wonderful things – especially after reading the titles of the sessions!
    I particularly rejoiced knowing what Lewis’would have up his sleeves for the Saturday celebration dinner.
    Looking forward to reading more of your stories!

  13. Jeremiah

    This was my third Hutchmmot. Each one has been a blessing. I was blown away by the presence of the Holy Spirit throughout the weekend. Here is my response to my time in Nashville:

    I have enough Hutchloot (I loved that phrase on Facebook) to last me until next October.

    Thank you Pete and Hutchmoot staff for making this gathering such an amazing experience!

  14. Ivan Mesa

    Like I wrote to another friend, Hutchmoot “was an intimate gathering of perhaps 200 folks who were fully present. After reading that NYT article on the loss of conversation last week, this was a tangible reminder about the beauty of community, tethered to Christ and united around love for the good, the true, and (especially in this gathering) the beautiful. Phones were mostly away and people just enjoyed being there, breaking bread, listening attentively, with a posture of grace and humility. You’d think in a gathering of artists there would be big egos, but it was refreshing to see the humility of all.”

  15. April Pickle

    Re-posting from Facebook:

    Saturday night Walter Wangerin, Jr., said it more than once: “There is entirely too much joy in this place.” And he was right. The Hutchmoot cup had runneth over, a hymn was being raised, and it was bursting through the ceiling.

    This was my third trip to the ‘moot, and while I was expecting to see dear,dear friends, listen to the best of stories, hear music from my favorite artists, and eat food prepared by a fine chef, I wasn’t expecting joy, especially not ceiling-bursting joy.

    You see, I’ve been in a season of grief, and for much of that time, joy has felt like a word for people who aren’t acquainted with dying and death, who are in denial, or who are already in the presence of Jesus – it wasn’t a word for me. I mean, I’ve had tiny moments of joy, seconds in days in which I have caught myself singing, or have relished the smiles on the faces of children, but these were short-lived, they were flashes of light in a photographer’s darkroom – like someone had flipped on the light switch and I had pushed it back down. Don’t you know it’s supposed to be dark in here?

    A few months ago, a post in the Rabbit Room about Andrew Peterson’s new album quoted him saying “It’s more hopeful. No, not more hopeful, necessarily, more joyful,” and as I read, I rolled my eyes in doubt and fear, worrying that the author of my favorite songs had somehow caved to some kind of let’s-detach-ourselves-from-our-pain-and-pretend-it-doesn’t-exist kind of music that gets a lot of play on the radio. I didn’t want joy at the expense of truth. And to have both seemed too good to be true.
    But I was wrong. “The Burning Edge of Dawn” is filled with stories of sadness, depression, exhaustion. Andrew explains it well in an interview during Hutchmoot with Jeffrey Overstreet: “This is an album about joy, but not the kind of joy you experience once you’re out of the woods. It’s the joy that you experience when you see that there’s an end to the woods, and you’re still fighting your way through the brush.”

    When our beloved proprietor sang the new songs Friday night, I knew he was singing truth. Joy had already come to me – it came in the fellowship of dear friends, friends whose eyes reminded me that a great good is coming, is coming, is coming – it came in gifts of stories, songs, scones, and blackberries, from folks who had suffered great pain and loss themselves this past year – it came in seeing my children enjoying Hutchmoot, and in those beautiful and scrumptious salads Lewis set out for lunch. Joy – joy – joy.

    Interestingly, in the days before traveling to Nashville, I’ve was reading C.S. Lewis’s book about his life and spiritual journey, the one entitled “Surprised by Joy.” This means that the words “Surprised by Joy” were in front of my face every night at bedtime as I picked up the book to read a few pages before falling asleep. I had held them in my hands, had turned the pages behind them over and over, not knowing that I myself would be surprised by joy at Hutchmoot – too much joy – “Entirely too much joy.” Thanks be to God.

  16. Lanier

    Whipple, while I’d love to be able to take credit for that Perelandrian experience of raspberry cordial, I must set the record straight: it was concocted by Jennifer Trafton. 😉

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