Hutchmoot Is A Sending Place


“‘No. You’re forgetting,’ said the Spirit. ‘That was not how you began. Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about the light.’”
—C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Hello, dear fellow Hutchmooter.

You are now experiencing reentry. Please keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times, and wait until the car comes to a complete stop. Reentry is not pleasant for anyone. It’s a strange mix of feeling full, of having so much to talk about, to share, to process—and maybe you don’t have anyone to do that with. Maybe you have to hit the ground running with small children the moment you enter the door. Maybe you have an unforgiving boss who doesn’t care about your weekend. And you—you’ve been altered, you’ve been fed. You feel different and you wish you could put it into words.

Maybe this was your first time at Hutchmoot, and you were astonished at the restful space that was given to you. You were unhurried in your heartfelt conversations with people who were once strangers, but now are dear friends. You lingered over your coffee, made with care and love and handed to you with a smile. You’re overwhelmed with the joy of a creative space like Hutchmoot, but you’re also exhausted and your brain and spirit feel full to the brim. While you don’t want to leave, you feel that if you had one more session to sit through and think through, you might slump over onto the floor out of sheer overload.

Maybe Hutchmoot was a returning time for you. You knew the faces to expect, the hugs to anticipate, and the jokes to be told. You might have opened up on a new level and shed some tears with kindred spirits. You felt, as you have many years before, that this was a home-going of sorts. Yet every year is different, and there are new things to think about and sort through. Your heart feels uplifted and filled. You lingered in the parking lot and didn’t want to leave yet again. 

If I may, I’d like to remind you of one very hard thing: Hutchmoot isn’t a staying place; it’s a sending place. 

Wherever in the world you’re returning to, you’re sent there. You’ve been placed there by design. You aren’t there by accident. At least for now, and for most of us, Nashville isn’t where we belong.

You, artist/creative type/appreciator, serve a purpose in the kingdom of God in your actual, local, geographic location. You are a part of the body, unlike any other part of the body where you are. You aren’t meant to be like everybody else.

Part of the glory of Hutchmoot is that you feel like people “get” you. You ask them if they’ve read that book, and they have! And they loved it, too! Remember Lewis’ quote about how friendship is born the moment someone says, “What, you too?! I thought I was the only one!” Hutchmoot is full of those moments, and they are delightful and soul-nourishing.

But back at home, you are a bit more unique. Not everyone thinks the way that you do. This, also, is by design. If everyone thought like I did, the budgets would never be balanced and the times tables would never be learned. But that’s because I serve a different function than someone else who excels at those things.

Hutchmoot isn't a staying place; it's a sending place.

Kelly Keller

It’s easy to interact in that “you too” manner at Hutchmoot because some of the work has already been done for us. We know that when we make a Narnia reference, almost everyone will perk up. We know that people will want to talk thoughtfully about films and not cast them aside out of hand. There are relatively safe conversational spaces to occupy and know you will be welcomed. But that’s because the Proprietor, the Hutchmaster, and the staff have worked very hard to establish grooves for us to run in. The way has been paved, the example has been set, and the space has been made. At home, this is probably not true. 

May I suggest that you do some hard work to find those “you too” moments with the members of your local place? 

Not everyone there is easy for you to love. You’re not easy for some of them to love, either. Recall Paul’s teaching to the Corinthian church about the parts of the body. You might be an eye who has nothing in common with an ankle or a hand. Remember, you have the most important thing in common: you have Jesus! The body of which you’re a part is the very thing you have in common. 

Because you’re good at imagining, let’s imagine for a moment a group of eyes talking to each other. “What a night I had!” one says, “The Body left the contact lenses in overnight and it was a battle all night long.” The other eyes nod in agreement—they’ve experienced that as well. Another pipes up, “I saw the most beautiful meal the other night, but Stomach was a real downer and said we could only have a few bites.” Someone replies, “Yes, my Stomach is that way too. Why don’t they understand what we see? How beautiful it is?”

It might take more effort for an eye to have conversations with stomachs, ankles and hands than with other eyes. But they are still part of the same Body, and they can’t do without each other.

I have long felt, as many of you do, that The Rabbit Room is a unique place worth preserving. It’s different, it’s new to some of us, and it’s a haven. Anytime there is a sniff of controversy, we have the difficult conversation or we just do the hard work of lovingly pressing through and forgiving a difference. There is special care taken to major on the majors and allow kind disagreement on the minors, because we can’t let conflict destroy this special place we’ve got.

But this is what the church ought to be to us, as well. Perhaps familiarity with the institution of the local church, and the way it has become lazily enfolded into cultural Christianity, has made us careless in striving for the preservation of it.

If the past decade in America is any indication, there is a shift happening in American culture. We are, slowly but surely, moving from a “Christian nation” (may I say, we were never this—and that’s another post) to a post-Christian one. Though the changes are uncomfortable, the church is being refined. It’s becoming increasingly uncomfortable for people to hang onto churches for the social capital. This is a good thing.

As this shift continues, the need increases for you, Rabbit. Your local body needs your voice of hope. Your vivid descriptions of Heaven. Your songs in the night. They won’t all understand it at first, and some of them will never “get it” at all—at least, not at the level your idealistic heart wants them to. But for those who do, you may function as a life preserver. Russell Moore has made it a habit of saying that the church is moving from moral majority to prophetic minority. As this happens, the songs and stories will grow all the brighter. The church needs its artists and its poets, striving with their musical hearts towards peace in the church and for the hope of Heaven.

So don’t stay in Nashville, Hutchmooter. Go sing to your people at home. Maybe we’ll see you next year. We’ll hug you when you get here.

This post originally appeared on Kelly Keller’s blog.

[Editor’s note: This is the part of the post where we ask you to comment with a note about your experience of Hutchmoot this year. What themes did you notice emerging in sessions, songs, and conversations in the hallway? Are there any particular meaningful moments you’d like to share? Funny stories or new friends? You’re invited to tell about it here.]


  1. Carrie Givens


    Hutchmoot is always rich, but this year surprised me with its riches again. Sweet conversations, good challenges. My heart was more tender than I knew coming in, and, as Suzanne Tietjen noted, “Music is the needle that drags the suture to the wound, to do the work.” I needed the prick of the needle this weekend, now the work of healing begins. I shared a few thoughts over on my blog:

  2. Chloe

    This was my first Hutchmoot, and I did my best to come with open hands and open heart, and receive what the Lord had to give me. I think He allowed me a “soft start” through most of Friday, and then He began to do such big things. One story in particular: when I was sad for about five minutes about not making it into Julie’s workshop on garden design, I ended up running into my favorite arranger for harp music in the hall–I’ve been playing her arrangements for fifteen years, and loving the way she created music for folk harp, but had no expectation of ever meeting her. And there she was at Hutchmoot, asking Eddy Efaw about the Green Ember symbol on one of his mugs! After that not-so-little miracle, the Lord met me around every corner, and I ended up writing in my journal that He kept “completely shattering me–in a way that put me more together.” Another miracle? Besides finding that I truly did have a “place” here amongst Rabbits that I respected and admired, I had two or three conversations where I felt that I actually had something to offer, not just receive. That also was a gift.

  3. gllen

    to the long-lost but never abandoned wounds of healing…

    O Maker, O Mover, O Muse,
    Breather of the wind,
    You who were so slain,
    to bring your children in…

    here i am, this weekend, here today,
    gathered by that grand-appointing pull of
    circumstance, opportunity, and force
    otherwise known as your Providence,
    and will, and grace…

    here i am,
    caught up in a tittering whizzy of
    dance and joy and laughter
    that mark a brief respite,
    a relief, a sigh,
    from the stinging woundings
    of a lost & stranded
    season in my soul…

    as one bewildered,
    yet beloved, olive
    i am –
    tumbling, tumbling,
    prostrate –
    (flesh, fragrance, oil, marrow, pith, and all),
    the stone of my heart that has
    been stuck so cold and hurt inside
    this life you love – for oh, so
    many days,
    so much – so long…

    here, i find myself surrounded
    by a family of fellow-altered
    “olive-berries” –
    brothers & sisters who, too,
    have been spent receiving goodness,
    richness, and shivering tremors
    of a vast & vulnerable beauty
    from your hand…

    we have eyes
    that see Your language
    everywhere we look –
    ears that wait,
    and wilt, and wonder,
    with the aroma of Your song
    (wafting in every nook and
    permeating corner of this
    pilgrim life You lead us
    and upon)…

    yes, here we are…
    we few, but fellow olives –
    each bathed in a unique irresistible
    hue and radiance
    of Christ’s light –
    Christ’s life –
    Christ’s calling…

    no two of us are alike
    yet, we have all been plunged
    in some way,
    shape, or form into
    that “restless raging fury that we call
    the love of God…”

    we are travellers
    to a land that we know
    (we know, we know) –
    but, the road we walk upon
    is littered, and washed, and sometimes
    even made muddy with our tears…

    the gifts we hold in our hands –
    and in our hearts –
    You have placed there
    for the giving away,
    & the giving out,
    & the giving good –
    of, not ourselves, but others –
    Your sheep. Your Body. Your Bride.

    O Lord Jesus, this is a high &
    holy calling You have placed
    so graciously upon us –
    it’s so so good,
    but it hurts so so much sometimes –

    O Shepherd of our hearts.
    O Artist of our lives.
    O Holy LORD of
    all olives
    and berries
    and grapes –
    all manner of fruits –

    we are ripened & reeling on
    Your redeeming Vine –
    we have each received Your
    torn, poured out,
    now risen love –

    teach us please –
    teach us how – teach us here

    may we offer up to you –
    (in faithful service, stewarding, and obedience)
    – a fragrance of abundant
    wounded healing…

    (the oil You are pressing
    from our lives)

    O, help us, please…

  4. Laura Peterson


    I found myself in several delightful conversations with first-time Hutchmooters who were around the age I was back at Hutchmoot #1, and that was a complete joy for me. It was so encouraging to think back on all the work the Lord has done in my life through this community since Hutchmoot 2010, and to realize that He is about to do similar things in the lives of these new friends of mine. So great.

  5. gllen

    hospitality… hospitality…
    that is the one word that encompasses H/M 2019 for me.
    the organizers – the workshop leaders – the cooks – the servers – all those who invested hours and life – all the planning and logistics behind the scenes..,
    we who were so blessed to attend, received a deep and nourishing feast – because, so many of our brothers & sisters submitted to the task of serving – of washing our feet with their patience, gentleness, and consideration.
    Hutchmoot is a place where the heart of Christ might be seen, understood, and developed in deep & lasting ways.
    If we all pay attention. If we all focus on Jesus, and learn, and imitate.
    This year, for me, was a culmination of a long season of wrestling & grappling with wounds that had held me bound for far too long.
    I found insight, encouragement, and affirmation.
    I found a safe place to shed some necessary tears.
    And, the impetus to get back up, and pursue the gifts God has placed in my hands – for others.
    Drew Miller’s song “Into the Darkness” craned and undergirded everything that God was doing in my life at the Moot this year.
    I am so thankful to have been a part of this year’s feast!

  6. gllen

    can I share one bit more?

    “when tears come to our eyes,
    when we cry and when we weep –
    it is not something to be afraid of,
    or to hide –

    it’s just our hearts speaking to our bodies,
    and saying –
    that there’s something really important going on,
    and we need to pay attention –

    something beautiful and good,
    is very close to the surface right now –
    something we need,
    to stop.
    step back & listen to,
    because we do not want to miss it…”

    take me to the ends of grace…

    Lord Jesus.
    the way that you pioneered.
    the life that you enacted.
    the breath that moved out of your incarnation,
    into our sight,
    and our touch.
    this was a modus operandi of transformation.
    you. determining to dwell
    within us.
    enacting your life
    out of us.

    hesed, and wholeness,
    overshadowing clay…

    how can we comprehend this immensity?
    how can we continue ensnared by pretense?
    how can we not open up ourselves to you,
    and say;
    “be it to me,
    according to your Word…”
    “Lord Jesus, take me to the ends of grace…”

    to the end of;
    my own understanding.
    my own strength.
    my own devices.
    my own prejudices, fears, anxieties.
    my own faults & grievous failures.
    my anger, resentment, stubborn pride.
    my need to feel important.

    Lord Jesus, take me to the ends of grace…

    from the need to always be right.
    from the urge to defend myself.
    from the brittle cages of comfort and safety.
    from the eyes of acceptance and honour.
    from the fire of being needed.
    from the flame of having to belong.
    from the lies that I carry so unconsciously
    inside of me.

    Lord Jesus, take me to the ends of grace…

    from all that shrivels
    and stagnates me –
    Lord Jesus, please,
    take me to the ends of grace…


  7. gllen

    “framed” – not “craned…”
    Ah well…
    There you go…

    (Texting testts my patience.
    I muusf admit!


  8. K. Rose


    Oh, how I needed this, Kelly. Thank you. As for stories, here’s mine:
    Coming to my first Hutchmoot was like a good dream made real. Even before DH & I arrived, I kept saying, “I can’t believe this is happening,” to DH. But when I got there Thursday, I found myself simultaneously shy & feeling like I was being awkwardly overbearing by introducing myself to people, especially when I had to answer the question, “So what do you do?”
    But then Friday morning arrived, and with every new session, workshop, & conversation, I found myself relaxing & taking in all the enrichment. Though I wasn’t sure if I really belonged there when I came, by the time I left, I knew that I did, especially after participating in the “Midwife Crisis” session. I had–I have–a place in the community doing the work of creating & working out our faith through art, music, & story, & I can add value to that community. Such a glorious thought, to be able to be part of the work where I am right now.

  9. Rachel Donahue


    Kelly, thank you again for writing this and giving words to so many thoughts.
    I love that Hutchmoot is one place I can get renewed inspiration and vision for homemaking and motherhood, encouragement and creative thrust for my writing, and new depths of understanding the Bible. This year I was eager to get home and roll up my sleeves again, and I know I wasn’t the only one.
    I also love that it’s OK to not be OK at Hutchmoot. Bearing one another’s burdens is displayed so beautifully in the prayers and hugs and sincere interactions. I wept more in one weekend than in the previous year, but I also laughed harder and longer and more often than I can remember. Where else could one find the camaraderie to jest over lunch and end up with a series of poems about cheese? If anything, Hutchmoot (and the Rabbit Room community year-round) gives me courage to shine my own little light in my own little corner, and hopefully spread some of this joy to someone else.

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