Hutchmoot 2021 Re-entry: A Planet Full of Roses

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In his Sunday Chef’s Address, John Cal referenced The Little Prince and made an insight that has stuck with me. He said, “It’s like when the Little Prince discovered a planet full of roses, when at first he believed that his one single rose was unique and special in the universe. ‘It is special because it is your rose,’ the Fox tells him, ‘Not that it is unique, but that it is yours.'”

Every year, Hutchmoot fills me with several nearly-indescribable gut feelings—and I know at once that I won’t feel them again at that intensity until next October. This Little Prince quote awakens one of those deeply-felt feelings in me, and I’ll try to describe it here.

It’s the sense of having labored long and hard at the keeping of this rose which is mine, never sparing a moment to look up from the ground, until I’m tapped gently on the shoulder and beckoned to rise and see that planet full of roses—and not only the roses themselves, but the gardeners and caretakers of those roses, talking and laughing and showing one another the work of their hands. At that sight, two emotions course through me in rapid succession: first, the rather juvenile disappointment that my rose turns out not to be the only rose in the universe after all; and second, the more mature relief that I am not alone in this work, that there are voices other than my own, voices that have insights to share which I might not have considered before, voices that sound pleasant, welcoming, and so graciously new to my ears.

To put it more conceptually, I experience Hutchmoot as a profound antidote to individualism—and yet, that doesn’t mean the forgetting of oneself. It means precisely what the Fox meant: the recovery of a true vision for why it matters that I tend to my rose. Not because it’s the only rose to ever exist—the fantasy of rampant individualism—but simply and unglamorously because it is mine.

The true Story was still told, the songs of redemption still sung, and the vision of a new creation still imaged on canvas. We don't have to be at our best for these things to happen, and in fact, we may be nourished all the more for it.

Drew Miller

The beauty of this is that once I learn what gifts belong to me and honor them properly, I am freed up to notice and delight in the gifts that belong to others. Here’s some of what I noticed this weekend: nobody tells stories from such a deep well of faith as Walter Wangerin, Jr. The hospitality of Sho Baraka’s lyricism—how he teaches and encourages and challenges and tells the truth all at once—that is his rose. Whenever I listen to Sara Groves talk, I come away wanting so badly to write another song. She’s so very good at that. Dave Barnes is hilarious, but more than that, his humor is such a beautiful entry point into the vulnerability of not taking oneself too seriously. Kyra Hinton knows how to facilitate collaboration better than anyone I know, and the fruit of that labor was absolutely stunning in the art studio! Malcolm Guite has so thoroughly internalized the poetry of the gospel that it flows through him like an electric current, and that rose is marvelous to behold. And speaking of poetry, I hear Hannah Hubin’s work and am left wrestling with its implications and contemplating truths beyond telling. That’s her rose.

And that is just a very small sampling of the roses that were on display this weekend! Not included in that list is the extravagant creativity of all the Hutchmoot posters that attendees shared on the virtual fridge, the whimsical playfulness of Huntmoot, and the list goes on and on.

There’s one more gift that arises from the proper naming of the rose that belongs to me and the roses which belong to others: even the responsibility of caring for my rose does not fall entirely on my shoulders. It requires my care and attention, but it also requires sunlight, water, and mysterious gifts that only appear by God’s grace. And that’s another one of those indescribable feelings I experienced this year. I don’t think it’s overstating the case to say that every single speaker and artist contributed their rose out of a place of deep exhaustion from the past eighteen months of life on this planet. But the embarrassment of riches that we were still able to enjoy testifies to a source of life far more lasting than the dried-up wells of our own efforts. One miracle I saw this weekend, then, was dozens upon dozens of rose-keepers pointing us beyond their own work, to the Keeper of us all who has held us and sustained us in the face of immense pain, loneliness, and grief. The true Story was still told, the songs of redemption still sung, and the vision of a new creation still imaged on canvas. We don’t have to be at our best for these things to happen, and in fact, we may be nourished all the more for it.

So allow me to ask—and please leave your answer in the comments section—what is your rose? What did it feel like to glimpse the roses of others? How have you been nourished? What did you notice, what spoke to you, and what will you carry with you from this weekend into your daily life?

The Hutchmoot: Homebound website will be accessible to attendees throughout the month of October.


6 Comments

  1. Carolyn Broughton

    Yes, Drew Miller, you hit the proverbial nail on its head. I am absolutely experiencing those several gut feelings that only the feast and community of Hutchmoot produce, and which therefore only come around in their intensity and simultaneous-ness once a year – thank you for naming and claiming them, and forging the trail for the rest of us still struggling to wrap ourselves around the enormity and hilarity and overwhelming whelmedness that is Hutchmoot:Homebound. My rose… inevitably feels insignificant, not nearly as unique as I thought, and insipidly pale next to, say, just about any other rose in the room… which, of course, is the exact and appropriate humbling I need, both to cut my inevitably overgrown opinion of myself down to appropriate realism, and also to remind me that actually I DO still have a seat at the table (I’m here, aren’t I?), and therefore I DO have a voice, and my  rose is… mine, like you said. There isn’t another one quite like it. Maybe typing this comment is really me externally processing the fact that it’s truly important for each rose (and more, and more) to be in the room, for each voice — no matter how insipid, or hesitant, or not-as-excellent-as-we’d-like — to be at the table, that the community of beauty-makers is the thing, a beautiful mosaic of brilliantly individual tiles, of which I am suddenly happy and grateful to be one. 

  2. Sarah Wolfe

    I very much agree with this, not least because I also saw that everyone was coming from the same place of exhaustion I was. And that was comforting in its not-aloneness. For that reason I felt less refreshed this Hutchmoot than rearmed and challenged for what lies ahead.
    My rose is delicious food, healing in soul as well as in body as I cook for family members with extensive dietary needs and others who are safe eating in my home when they would not be almost anywhere else. I saw in various discussion places that this skill set is much needed in the wider world, and I am encouraged to continue the work.

  3. Joy Camburn

    How was I nourished? By the personal stories people told and the ways they broke them open to offer them as pieces of bread to the rest of us souls, hungry like themselves. Each piece of advice, each song, each piece of art within its own context of life.
    There is still so much to soak up, so many whose stories I haven’t heard yet! I listen a little and then have to go away to digest that seemingly small (but filling!) meal before I am ready to come back for more.
    What was my rose? I hadn’t thought about that before this post. In this season of my life I am (as Gina Sutphin puts it in the Artist’s Roundtable on Making as Vocation) obedient to a day-to-day calling that doesn’t engage my particular craft in the concrete ways we expect from a craft. The words I craft are for personal devotions, for personal emails or conversations, not for the articles/books I always dreamed I’d write. Much of my crafting creativity is channeled into menu-making and keeping tabs on health protocols. (Learning gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free cooking might just require more creativity than crafting the most difficult sentences I’ve ever written or designing the most fun craft projects I’ve ever made!) I’m ok with where God has me right now, but it’s easy to forget that I still have a rose — that these commonplace things are my rose.
    That’s one thing Hutchmoot reminds me of: that my tiny-scale gardening attempts and my daily dinner prep truly are my art. And that this kind of art is just as needed and soul-nourishing as a good hymn-sing.
    And speaking of food, this second year has been the same for me as the first: The Kitchen is the room where I first feel at home and welcomed into the circle. And inspired (reinspired) to cook with full joy and creative abandon. John Cal’s recipes are a delight to read, and his Chef’s Addresses never cease to move and challenge me. I am always nourished by the way they hallow all of life and see it as the ministering hand of God to us.

  4. ChelseaLee

    @chelsealee

    Drew, thank you so much for writing this piece. It’s full of truth, goodness, and beauty. I’ve loved the story of The Little Prince for many years now, and I appreciate the way both you and John Cal highlighted and drew out the beautiful truth of the Little Prince’s rose. (I used to read this story to my 6th graders and cried every single time. But I also cried at the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and To Kill a Mockingbird, so they probably thought I just cried a lot.) So well written. In answer to your question, I’m not fully sure how to articulate what my rose is. Without going into detail, my rose was trampled, but, as Antoine de St. Exupery wrote, I’m still responsible for my rose. I may not have been able to prevent the trampling, but I can water, feed, and tend the soil of my rose. It just takes time. While many things (as you mentioned) were nourishing about Hutchmoot, for me the sessions “The Beauty and Challenge of Intentional Community” (Heidi Johnston, Glenn Johnston, and Desi Maxwell), “Story and the Child’s Imagination” (Walter Wangerin, Jr. and Sara Danger), and “The Virtues and Practices of a Flourishing Artist” (David and Phaedra Taylor) helped tend and prepare my heart for Malcolm’s talk. While there was so much to glean and soak in, the short part towards the end in which he discussed the Beatitudes actually led to the most nourishment and healing for me. You’re right to remind us that God tends to us, to our roses, and over the past few months I’ve see little glimpses of that and are seeing how each instance builds on the last. It reminds me of another one of my top five favorite stories, Til We Have Faces.

  5. Matt Wheeler

    @mattwheeler

    “The beauty of this is that once I learn what gifts belong to me and honor them properly, I am freed up to notice and delight in the gifts that belong to others.” Yes, & amen! Hutchmoot, & The Rabbit Room community in general, tends to be full of “You, too? I thought I was the only one!” moments for me, & HM:HB 2021 was no exception. I especially enjoyed Sara Groves & Ben Shive’s session, Malcolm Guite’s keynote address, & connecting with dozens of fellow Rabbits on Instagram since. So many roses, & the variety of roses is stunning. Praise be to Creator that invites us to sub-create! 

  6. Jacque Langenberg

    Thank you for helping me ‘see my rose’. It seems to change each season, in color and shape. Sometimes I haven’t liked it at first. Sometimes I haven’t been able to easily find or even see it…being hidden by other things, some healthy, some not.  Sometimes it has been shared, sometimes it’s just for me, directly anyway.
    All of you have helped me put thoughts and words to this tension. God is glorified and I am humbled and excited.

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