Saturday, October 1, 2011

Along the Road - Hutchmoot 2011

I'm a lover of life.  A glass-is-half-full girl.  A believer in ideals.  But life can be really, really hard.  And if it's not hard for me at the moment, chances are, it is for one (or many) of those close to me.  Over time, I've had the honor of walking with folks who were navigating through some treacherous territory.  They didn't see it coming, and weren't sure they'd be able to find the way out.  I've been there a time or two.  And I bet, so have you.  Thank goodness we're all here to stumble, sprint, roam, crawl, dance, climb, skip, limp and wade through life together.

In returning from my weekend at Hutchmoot, I've been pondering how and what to report back to those who've graciously shown interest.  This is my attempt.  For starters, it may be helpful to address the etymology of the name.  

Hutch - n.  A coop for the housing of small animals, especially rabbits.  
Moot - n.  An ancient English meeting, especially a meeting of the free men of a shire.  v. To discuss

Hutchmoot is the convening of 100ish music, art, Lewis and Tolkien-loving folks, many who have met virtually in the Rabbit Room. Hutchmoot is more of a family gathering than a conference.  It offers community rather than instruction.  Its intent is to inspire and enjoy rather than to equip.  

Upon returning from my weekend away, our family resumed reading Dangerous Journey, which is a beautifully illustrated retelling of Pilgrim's Progress. The story begins by introducing Christian, who carries a heavy burden upon his back.  He works with it.  He sleeps with it.  He can find no relief.  In an effort escape from certain doom, Christian embarks upon an odyssey of discovery that leads him through great peril, uncertainty, and pivotal  choices.  During his travels, he meets a variety of fellow-travelers.  Some of them, such as Obstinate, Pliable, Worldly Wiseman and Mr. Legality offer a plethora of counsel to Christian.  Their counsel, however, is unhelpful at best and near-fatal at worst.

One broad road turned to the left;  another broad road turned to the right;  while the narrow road went straight on - up the great black back of the Hill called difficulty.  Which one would they choose?  Formalist chose to go to the left, which led him into a dark wood.  Did he but know it, the road was call Danger, and he lost his way for ever.  Hypocrisy chose to go to the right, which led him into rough ground, full of holes and hummocks.  Did he but know it, the road was called Destruction.  Here he stumbled and fell, and rose no more.  As for Christian, he paused and drank at a spring to refresh himself.  Then after looking both ways, he started briskly straight up the hill.

Others join Christian and impact his journey in quite a different way.  Evangelist points him in the right direction.  The Interpreter helps him gain understanding.  Faithful, who has fought quite different battles from those Christian experienced, offers encouragement and fellowship along the way.

So I saw in my dream that he made great haste.  But as he drew nearer, he could hear in the darkness the roaring of the lions.  The only way forward was along a narrow passage, which was about a furlong from the porter's lodge.  This, he knew, was the place from which Mistrust and Timorous had fled.  And Christian was never so near to running back after them.  But the porter at the lodge, whose name was Watchful, perceiving now that Christian made a halt, cried out:   "Is your strength so small?  Fear not the lions.  They are on long chains.  If you keep strictly to the beam of light, in the center of the path, they cannot reach you."  So Christian moved on.  He took good heed to the directions of the porter.  At the same time, he trembled for fear of the lions, for now they were on either side of him, straining at their chains.  And how they roared, and snapped at him!  And how they tried to catch him by the foot!

Although the characters are prototypical, I can see myself in each on any given day.  At times, I offer hope, encouragement and companionship to those who are struggling.  At others, I'm presumptuous, hypocritical, timid, and not particularly helpful in encouraging my fellow-travelers to persist and press on in the right direction.  As the years go by, my hope is to become a better travel companion.

My time in Nashville was a sweet reminder that we're not left alone on this unpredictable journey of life.  Those I met did not have names like Evangelist, Faithful, or Goodwill, yet they gave me great gifts of encouragement, community, and hope.  Here are few glimpses of our encounters along the road:

~ Pete Peterson - Affirmed that just as God created in His own image, we create from our own personal stories.  Although flawed, we are born to create.  That which we create has dignity, and reflects the hope and the truth of the gospel.

~ Jonathan Rogers - Encouraged us to spend time considering our story... those moments, years, and decades in life that make up our personal history.  Within each of our lives can be found the story of redemption.  Not just in the few dramatic, life-altering scenes, yet more often in the details of the mundane.  Pay attention.  Take note.  

~ Ben Shive - Challenged us to look for stories of redemption in unlikely places.  Although that may not have been his end-goal, it was certainly a by-product of his recounting the life and works of Brian Wilson.  Who "woulda thunk"  that his music is complex and innovative, or that redemption can be seen in the story of his life.  Not in a renewal of Wilson's strength and vigor, but in the kindness of those surrounding him when he finally reached the end of his proverbial rope.  Listening to the Beach Boys will never be the same.  And hopefully, neither will listening to the stories of folks whose paths intersect with mine.  I want to listen without presumption, but with anticipation and curiosity.

~ Russ Ramsey and Justin Gerard - Illuminated the connection between the art of the masters and the Master himself.  By becoming apprentices of the great artists - studying their lives, technique, style and artwork, we can gain glimpses of the Kingdom from a new and fresh vantage point.  Gerard, who is an amazing artist and illustrator, conveyed, "I can't write like Tolkien, but I can reflect what he's done with my own art."  There's a sermon or two for us all in that statement alone.

~ Sally Lloyd-Jones - Inspired us to believe in the power of language and story, and to fall more deeply in love with The Great Story.  "A story can do much more than teach, it can transform you.  It works secretly," she shared.  Trust the story to do the work.  Don't feel like we we have to push morals.  I'm still mulling over the implications of that one.  With her humble, winsome, and delightfully British accent, Sally treated us to a lovely storybook time which could have rivaled that of the Darling children in Peter Pan.  She then narrated the story of her own life, complete with a few significant plot twists, compliments of the Author.  She inscribed my daughter's Jesus Storybook Bible with the following, "Caroline, This is your story." And it's mine.  And it's yours, too.

~ Andrew Peterson - Reminded us all to Whom we belong.  We are the beloved.  We are made in His image.  And we create as a response.  He also reminded us that we have not been left to journey through life alone.  The weekend served as a living testimony that the Kingdom is not only in the future - we've been given a taste of it here on earth.  In all of creation.  In music, art, literature, laughter, kindness, compassion, and yes, in each other.

As I continue to distill all that I experienced over the weekend in Nashville, perhaps the most lasting impression that will mark my soul was the gathering of 100 relative strangers, who because of the great love for their Father, became family.  We were given a glimpse of what will take place one day, when we are all finally gathered together "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages"...

A voice cried out: "These pilgrims now are come from the City of Destruction for the love they bear to the King of this place."  So the Gates of Heaven opened to them, and they entered in.  "And," writes Bunyan in his book, "I was able to look in after them, I saw the streets were paved with gold.  And in them walked - with crowns upon their heads - the company of just men made perfect.  And the Bells of the City rang for joy.  For Christian and his fellow had come to their true home."

All pictures and quotations are borrowed from Dangerous Journey:  The Story of Pilgrim's Progress William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company


Alyssa said...

Julie, this is so good and so true. Thanks for mentioning "Dangerous Journey." I had never heard of it, but I will definitely be checking it out. Take care, new friend.

ericaceae said...
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ericaceae said...

Nice blog, Julie! It was good to meet you at Hutchmoot. Thanks for leaving a link so that I could track you down!