Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hutchmoot recap

*Sheepishly enters the blogosphere after 4 months of silence*

I'm back to share another newsletter article that I wrote for our church! I've included the intro that our Arts & Worship Director wrote as well. I know that there is still more bits of wisdom from the conference floating around in my head. Hopefully I'll write more soon. (Famous last words...)

When Heather mentioned the conference she describes below, I was immediately excited for her. She was not asking me if I thought she should (or could) attend, but I knew it would be a great adventure for her to spend time under the same roof with people she has followed and supported for many years. When I decided to offer her financial support from the A&W Ministry for the trip (with permission from our supervisors!) it was certainly because I hoped she would be changed for the better by the experience (even it is just a little polishing and not a reshaping, the Potter's work is never unfruitful). But more than that, I certainly believed it was a wonderful opportunity to say thank you to one who has cheerfully served me and this ministry for many months. I hope you enjoy her thoughts on her experience.

In August I had the privilege to go to a conference in Nashville put on by Andrew Peterson and The Rabbit Room website. As someone who has frequented The Rabbit Room since it began, I was thrilled to have the chance to rub shoulders with the folks whose writing, song-crafting, observations about everyday life have inspired me over the years. They called the conference a “Hutchmoot” {Hutch- n. A coop for the housing of small animals, especially rabbits. Moot- n. An ancient English meeting, especially a meeting of the freemen of a shire. v. To discuss.} and this is how they described the event:

“We want you to come and enjoy a weekend of music and conversation about the stories all around us in song, film, books - and most importantly the story being told through our lives; our own story - what it means to get to the holy hidden heart of it, how to tell a better story with the days we’re given, and how our stories intersect each other's and connect to the Great Story.”

The Great Story. We’ve used the term many times here at Trinity. Last year around this time the Women’s Ministry held a retreat with the title “The Stories that Shape Us.” This past Spring the Student Ministry went through a series titled “The God Stories.” We are all a part of this “capital-S” Story. We know this, but we rarely stop to think about it. It takes someone pointing it out to us for us to really take notice. Thankfully we had plenty of people to point it out for us that weekend.

The keynote speaker on Saturday night was Walter Wangerin, Jr., author of The Book of the Dun Cow, Saint Julian, and Ragman. He spoke to us about our duty as scops in the lives of those around us. Scop (pronounced “shop”), he told us, as he wrote on the imaginary blackboard in the air, is Old English for “shaper,” “poet,” or “artist.” The Scop is a “heaper into heaps” and a “piler into piles,” one who crafts or shapes into something tangible. “We come upon the mess and apart from our own wisdom we make order of it.” We have the ability, as well as the duty, to shape Truth and reality into something that can be understood, to “weave the world around those who have no world or personhood or name.” The bottom line, though, is this: “We tell the Old, Old Story over and over again - but we introduce the moments of Now.”

Most importantly is the context in which this Story-telling takes place. You can tell your Story, but unless you have an audience or a community to present it to, it ends there where it begins. Until this event the community that we had shared was an online community. Part of the inspiration for the event was to remove this barrier. Andrew told us at the opening dinner that someone had asked the author Wendell Berry what he thought of online community and his answer was this: “You’re not in community with someone until you’ve pulled their cow out of a ditch or spanked their child.” I think that sounds about right! These days we are much more inclined to have a network of “friends” online than to really be present in honest community.

How do we break this mold? How do we find somewhere to tell our story and live our story? Community Groups are one of the many outlets that we have here at Trinity to aid us in doing this. I’m sure that there are many other ways that we as a church and as individuals can find to break into the realm of true community. Whether it means starting a book discussion group, seeking out other artists (of all kinds!) to collaborate with, reaching out to your neighbors or simply taking advantage of the tools already in place, it is well worth doing. Of course, this also means that we have to drop our guard and let people truly know us. Trust me, I know that this is a scary thought. I am just as scared of this thought as the rest of you (if not more!). The encouragement is that we have an Author who has gone before. He invites us into the Story and infuses us with the courage to tell our story. And as we drop our guard, it becomes an encouragement for others to do the same.

My hope in sharing what I learned is that it will spark conversation that will hopefully lead to more opportunities for intentional community. I certainly don’t have the answers, but I’m willing to try to find them. As I write this, it has been close to two months since the conference and I’m still trying to process everything that I experienced that weekend. It takes time for a new perspective to become a part of you, but it is time worth spending. And if we, the Church, the body of Christ are strengthened and encouraged it is especially time well spent.

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