As our collaborative Doxology’s final “Amen” rang out in North Wind Manor, I looked around and saw that my tears were shared by everyone else in the room. 185 voices from around the world: a harmony achieved miraculously in isolation, joining defiantly in that perpetual song from the dawn of all Creation (“praise God, from whom all blessings flow”) at the end of a long weekend, at the twilight of a very long year—I guess it just did us in.
And in that “amen,” I swear that I heard God whisper, “Look at what we made together.”
That is one of the most absolutely astonishing things about the Creator of the world. He involves us. Not condescendingly, just to make us feel special, and not co-dependently, as if it’s all up to us. But genuinely. He’s made us with voices because he delights in our voices, because of the over-abundance of his love, which would find no satisfaction until there was an earth, until there was sunlight, until there was language, until there was an electromagnetic spectrum, until there was.
From the very beginning of Hutchmoot, we’ve never set out with an overarching theme in mind. It’s not something we want to impose on fifty speakers and hundreds of attendees. And yet, invariably, a uniting theme emerges of its own accord, clear as day and necessary as a cold drink of water.
This year, this conference seemed to declare, loud and clear: “It takes all of us.”
2020 has been a year of profound loneliness and isolation. Gratitude—a rich soil that, when cared for properly, sustains abiding joy—has been threatened by despair’s erosion. The rain has kept falling. I don’t know about you, but at least for me, that was the backdrop as we headed into this Hutchmoot: Homebound weekend.
I’ve lived much of this year in desperate need of something like a shot in the arm of sheer camaraderie—the sense of making something worthwhile and lasting together, something that could not be what it is without each person’s unique story. Something like…well, something like Inkmoot. Something like our collaborative Doxology. Something like eating the same storied meal as thousands of others around the world, even if not at the same table.
This year, we conceded a physical table to the coronavirus. But in return, we got a figurative table with seats for more than 3,000 people. Friends, Hutchmoot: Homebound hosted ten times the amount of attendees as a normal Hutchmoot. Put another way, more guests attended Hutchmoot: Homebound than each of the eleven other Hutchmoots since 2010—combined.
Let me say that again: this year’s Hutchmoot managed to make room at the table for the attendees of every other Hutchmoot ever and then some.
Gathering physically is irreplaceable. We missed you dearly this year. We missed those physical tables, we missed those long discussions in the hallway, and we missed the embodied dimension of an event that is, at its heart, all about what Andrew so eloquently described Saturday night as “the thrill of incarnation.” That loss is incalculable.
And—at Hutchmoot: Homebound, we were able to mourn that loss together, with you. Wendell Berry writes that “the impeded stream is the one that sings.” Well, broken as our song may be this year, it sure is beautiful and true.
Which leads me back to that most astonishing invitation that we at the Rabbit Room believe God is always extending towards us—”Look at what we made together. It would have been impossible without you.” Isn’t it a joy to give sixpence back to our Father, though he’s “none the richer” for our offering? Isn’t it so crucial that we share that “chasm of need” that “binds us together in faith and vulnerability”? It is just such a binding as this which sets us homeward.
And so we are deeply, unspeakably grateful that it takes all of us. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am grateful.
Darkness pulls at the edge of my cloak, and
I am grateful to stand
in the smoke. I am able
to laugh as I choke
under scorched skies.
Milky eyes leave streaks
through dust tracks on my cheeks, ash
rains down around me in the streets,
Father, the world is on fire.
I raise my hands higher
in the flames,
I am more than dust, and rust, and pain.
I am grateful
for the strain
of music running through the veins
of earth. For the birth
of new joy in a hurricane
of woes. For those
who raise their horns
to split the night asunder. For thorns
shoved into willing brows and the thunder
of hooves on battle plains. For those who bow
under the weight and laugh beside me.
For the dark that could not hide me,
and the dawn that always rises in the east.
For the feast to come,
that’s starting here
with table scraps of grace
and the light of shattered gold on every face.
Every trace of truth, it matters—“Grateful,” Shigé Clark
and it breaks
into the battered body
like a song. I am wrecked,
and long to rest.
But more, and more, and more, and best,
I am grateful.
Every year, we invite you in the comments section to share about your experience of Hutchmoot: Homebound. What themes did you feel emerge throughout the weekend? What observations did you make as you attended sessions and Zoom discussions, sang songs and ate meals? We would love to hear from you.