I just returned from Hutchmoot.
This was my third time, and yet I struggle to describe this weekend in Nashville to those who have not experienced it yet. There are some elements that are the same each year; good music, excellent writing, inspired art, fantastic food, and incredibly kind people. The schedule does not vary much, the location does not change at all. The participants vary from year to year.
More than once I was asked, “Why are you here?” (not in a “you don’t belong here manner, rather, true curiosity as to what drew me there.) My honest response? Because it fills me.
I arrived in Nashville tired, worn out, frustrated, and down. I needed to “see something cool.”
I did. And then some!
On Thursday night when Allen Levi broke into his song The Land Where the People Walked Backwards my arms were immediately covered in goose bumps, something special was happening, something beautiful, something cool. On Friday I learned that Jonathan Roger’s hometown was #3 on the Soviet Union’s list of annihilation! And Chris Yokel finds poetry in walks in the woods. Helena Sorensen reminded us of our one foot firmly planted in the temporal while our other foot is stepping into the eternal. Sam Smith encouraged us with the ability story has to show us hope. On Friday afternoon my wife, Dani, and I walked Radnor Lake where we came across two does, a fawn, and two young bucks, along with five turkeys. Friday night was only my second Andrew Peterson concert in my life, it was a fun evening filled with grace and hope. Saturday I enjoyed hearing Russ Ramsey talk about Van Gogh and hiking, and David Bruno talk about sehnsucht. Dani and I toured Cheekwood gardens and had a wonderful meal capped off with the stories of Walt Wangerin Jr. Sunday morning, shhh, I skipped church. I know, but it was so good to sleep in and not rush out the door on a Sunday morning. Breakfast at the pancake pantry left me wondering if I had ever had pancakes before my plate of Banana Bread pancakes. And then the Liturgy of the Lost Rhyme was beautiful and sacred. And of course almost all of it was surrounded by wonderful, amazing, talented people.
Those experiences are exactly what keep me coming back to Hutchmoot, what inspired me to say to my wife after my first one, “You’ve gotta see this!” It is the Church expressing the grace and love of God in tangible ways, in ways I could hear, see, touch, smell, and taste (Thank you Lewis Graham and the kitchen crew!). Christ was exalted and the Holy Spirit was present!
I am filled up, encouraged, and blessed. The experiences of Hutchmmot 2015 will resonate with me throughout the year as I listen to music, read books, or write poetry.