by Lancia E. Smith ~
Some of you Cultivating readers are already well-versed in Hutchmoot and you need no introduction from me. Some of you, in fact, have been a part of weaving it into existence and into its thriving. For those of you who are not acquainted please allow me to give you an introduction.
Hutchmoot is a one-of-a-kind annual gathering in Nashville of like-hearted folks who love God, love creativity, love the Inklings, and love each other. It is a conference that takes place over 4 days with classes, speakers, good meals, large and small sessions, concerts, book readings, art displays, prayer, and plenty of time to meet with other creatively inclined folks. But Hutchmoot is also a very real kind of family gathering and has all the warmth, informality, and sense of welcome that coming home to a place and a people you love does. It is the remarkable physical manifestation of the The Rabbit Room website created and managed by Andrew Peterson and Pete Peterson. And yes, Lewis and Tolkien lovers, this Rabbit Room was named after that Rabbit Room, and that tells you a lot right there.
Andrew Peterson founded The Rabbit Room to be “an experiment in creative community” after a trip to Oxford in 2005. He gives an eloquent account about his experience which you can find here. It is worth the reading. And this video catches the flavour of Hutchmoot beautifully. – http://www.hutchmoot.com/
For my own accounting about this experience, this was the first event of this kind in nearly a decade I have attended where I wasn’t actually working the event. Hutchmoot is an event I have been trying to get into for five years and it was simply the grace of God that the doors opened for me to attend this year.
What still sticks in my mind is the way from the opening of the event to the closing was the acknowledgement of how some of us are introverts and not able to respond to all the interaction and social opportunities. In fact, that acknowledgement by Andrew Peterson several times throughout the “moot” (as in Ent-moot, but without Ents – i.e. a gathering) is what gave me permission to struggle the first couple of days. I needed permission to be overwhelmed and to find the rhythm that was true in me to work from there. I’ve never heard this kind of permission given at other conferences. It was healing, illuminating, and profound.
With Hutchmoot there is an unmistakable sense of family and it is a family without pretense. It’s like the best of dinner parties and fellowship gatherings held in a church, with classes, and yet time to be alone for all the introverts in the crowd. Hutchmoot’s defining characteristic is the deep pulsing thread of community and its great and lasting gift to each one present is shelter. It offers the deeper reality of a gathering of kindred kind rooted in Christ. The shelter that is offered is a people to belong to.
The deepest longing of the human soul, I believe, is to be known and to belong. We yearn at the core of our being to be named, to be welcomed, to be given a place among our kindred. I caught beautiful glimmers of this at Hutchmoot.
This kind of gathering can afford ragged edges and imperfections. tweet
This is the kind of gathering that changes people long after they have traveled home and the change ripples quietly wide and far out into the wider world. This kind of community is about home cooking, regular clothes, good music, warm-hearted humour, daily liturgy, and shivers of courage and humility everywhere. These are brave and vulnerable folks. Many are highly gifted, accomplished, and skilled. Yet to a one, they use use their gifts and accomplishments to serve each other. They are as shameless about love, beauty, kindness, and creating as they are about being Christ-followers. This kind of community is tactile, present, in the flesh and in person. It is the kind of community that we are made for and we long incessantly for when we are cut off from it. It is a garden plot full of the soil in which we are made to grow and thrive.
This is the kind of community that is meant to reproduce like the rabbits so endearingly referenced from their originating source. If the name intrigues you or even mystifies you, I encourage you to go explore who they are and how they came into being. Their history shares very familiar faces, roads and places that bind The Cultivating Project, the Anselm Society, and the C.S. Lewis Foundation. You’ll see quickly what draws us here at Cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful to what the good folks at The Rabbit Room are cultivating.
If you love Cultivating, you will find yourself right at home in The Rabbit Room as well. tweet
2005 is same year I experienced my own life-changing trip to Oxford. You can read more about that story here. Had I not made that trip to The Kilns that summer, this website and The Cultivating Project would never have come into being. Friends, do not despise small beginnings. You cannot know at that first step of faith where the Lord might lead you.
One of my favourite parts of Hutchmoot was Andrew Peterson delivering the opening talk titled
Here is a quick link to the image set I did for the Hutchmoot 2016 gallery.
Many blessings to you, friends!