Hutchmoot 2011

September 26, 2011

It was suggested in a group discussion during Hutchmoot that what makes a good story is risk; that is, the author is taking a risk to tell the story. The story comes from a deeper, more vulnerable place in the author. It costs the author something to tell the truth.

I think that is why I like Hutchmoot. Each participant is risking something to be there and share their own story – the narrative of their lives – with others.

What are the risks a Hutchmootian takes to show up and tell their story?

The risk of looking foolish and hopelessly dorky as they sheepishly explain to friends and family at home where they’re going and why.

The risk of acknowledging their hunger and thirst for beauty. As Rich Mullins says so compellingly, “I know the thirsty listen, and down to the waters come.”

The risk of confessing that longing, that sehnsucht, that yearning for the Real that they catch glimpses of here in the Shadowlands.

Being in the company of those who take a risk to tell the truth about their needs, their brokenness, their delight in beauty: that’s what I like about Hutchmoot.

But that sounds all serious and maybe a little mopey, and the marvelous reality is, because we have risked something to be here, and our lives are in the process of becoming “good stories,” there is joy. Laughter. (I just heard a scientific examination of humor and it turns out that authentic laughter is only possible in the company of those we trust). Silliness. Fun. Savoring yummy Evie food. Conversations where you gratefully realize that no one is too interested in casting judgement on you. They’re fellow travelers, and speaking of travelers, as I was reflecting on the weekend, this Psalm came to mind :

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Folks that go to Hutchmoot seem to live by this principle.

Fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore! I am glad to be traveling that path of life with my fellow Hutchmootians.

(This feels like such an incomplete reflection on my weekend. But it’s a start.)

Today was a blah day. The unstructured, carefree days with kids out of school may be starting to wear a little on this mama. And financial worries feel a bit heavy today. And my future is looming large in front of me with unanswered questions about employment and/or going back to school. And I’ve been mulling over a tricky situation with a friend. And I have a headache.

And some days are just “low pot,” as we call it in our family.

Whatever the reason, today was a blah day.

My kids were being great, so that helped. Dave came home from work and gave me a long, kind hug in the kitchen, so that helped too. And everyone liked the dinner I’d made, which always helps.

But still…blah.

Until an unlikely event surprised me with hope, and cheered up my heart.

I went online to a live-streaming radio show where I’d heard Andrew Peterson would be playing.

And there was one of those live chat featured next to the screen with the musicians. I recognized some names of those participating in the chat and decided to log in. You see, these were Rabbit Roomers, readers and participants of a blog I follow. These were the same folks who convened in the “real” (that is to say, non-virtual) world last summer at Hutchmoot. And they’re doing it again this September and Dave and I are going again to Nashville, spending money we really probably shouldn’t be spending, to get together with like-minded Christians who love stories and music and art.

And tonight, as I shared a few silly conversational swaps with a few of these folks, my spirits lifted and the blah of the day lessened.

I have friends right here in town. I could have called one or two today to cheer me up. I feel grateful to have a network of local pals that love me and can be real with me. But today, my “virtual friends” came through and filled a need I didn’t know I had in the midst of my blah day. The need for a little community, for common interests and light chatter. It filled me up. And it made me excited for September. Hutchmoot 2011

On Saturday we had a big birthday party for Bridget, complete with an interactive show by The Reptile Guy. (it was awesome; he brought snakes, lizards, skinks, tortoises, a bullfrog and a huge tarantula. I think it truly might have been the happiest day of Bridget’s life.)

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The days leading up to the party were filled with activity: sewing banners to decorate our patio, ordering food, trying to get the final headcount, making party favor bags, shopping, and creating this guy, Old Swampy.

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These things were fun to do, with Bridget helping. She was delighted with all aspects of planning this amazing day.

Then, the night before the party arrived. I was frantically cleaning our home, doing last minute final touches to the decorations, and trying to get the kids to get showered and to play without making any messes.

My happy-mom-planning-a-party-for-her-beloved-daughter attitude began to wear thin.

“Why aren’t you helping me?” I barked at Dave, as he sat, immersed in a book, preparing for a class he’s teaching in the fall.

Dave is an amazingly good husband in the arena of pitching in to housework. But the guy HAD been dutifully assisting me, and also playing badminton on the driveway with the girls, much to their delight, as I skulked around with a martyr-ish air, sweeping, scrubbing, and vacuuming everything in sight.

Suddenly it occurred to me: “I’m doing this for me.” It’s an idea from Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. (Which, by the way, I started but never finished. How much happiness can one take?!) I have found this little phrase to be a great reminder.

Kids and parents coming to the party don’t care if there are crumbs on the floor, dog hair in the hallway, or smudges on the bathroom mirror. But I do.

So. When I do things that are important to me (like the time-consuming task of applying frosting in a scale-like pattern on an alligator cupcake) and start feeling annoyed that Dave and the kids aren’t concurrently scrubbing toilets, I need to remember this. It sounds selfish, but really it releases my family from the responsibilities that they don’t feel strongly about. And it really takes the resentment out of my heart.

It turned out to be a fabulous party, made slightly more pleasant for me and my sweet family because I had let go of any frustration surrounding the preparation time. I did all that work for me.

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All Shall Be Well

June 29, 2011

Yesterday we found an ailing bird on our porch. My girls snapped into rescue mode, bringing birdseed and moving him gently into the shade, and diligently keeping our cat inside. But, despite their hopes and prayers, the little guy died in the afternoon.

Bridget tearfully told me that now that bird was getting to fly around in heaven with Jesus.

I did not enter a theological debate with her as to whether or not animals inherit eternal life, but simply nodded and hugged her.

And then she started singing Andrew Peterson’s “All Shall Be Well,” a song that we listen to in our minivan. Well applied, I thought.

We buried the bird in our front yard, and Bridget wanted to mark the grave with a cross, which we fashioned out of branches and leaves. Seeing the birds lifeless body lying there in the dirt was a quiet reminder of both the claim that Jesus made, that not even a sparrow falls from the sky that God doesn’t know about, and the grim reality of this tired, broken world. I’m glad that Bridget’s plaintive song will come true one day: all shall be well.

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Thoughts About Grace

July 25, 2010

I’ve been reading a book called I’m Proud of You.  It’s by Tim Madigan, a journalist who became friends with Mister Rogers.  I saw it here and decided to check it out from the library.

It’s been a lovely read.  Such a sweet, kind man who was oh-so-intentional about giving grace to his friends and all around him.

I’ve been thinking about grace a lot due to this book and to a Pixar short film I just bought on iTunes for my children to watch.  Remember Partly Cloudy?  It was that one where there are all the clouds who create babies, and give them to  stork helpers to go deliver them to delighted mothers.  It’s cute and the animation is interesting.

Remember how there is the stork that is seemingly “assigned” to the cloud who makes cute but ferocious animal babies?  It seems evident that this bird – Peck -  is genuinely fond of Gus.  (I just looked up their names on Wikipedia.)  But Peck is getting a little frazzled and wary of the pain-filled bundles of joy he has to deliver.  When he leaves Gus to go to another cloud, Gus is miserable and angry and feels rejected, but Peck has just asked to have some protective gear made for him so he can continue serving and working with Gus.

That is grace.

This principal of extending grace to people is one I struggle with.  Even my beloved friends and family occasionally create something difficult or uncomfortable for me to bear.  And there are some  friendships that constantly seem to require my being uncomfortable.  But instead of fleeing, instead of bolting, I want to stay present.  I may need to arm myself, if necessary, to withstand the pain that they create.  But I still want to cultivate the discipline to hang in there.  After all, things are not all about me.

Why can I not get that simple thought through my head?

The book about Mister Rogers is about his unwavering friendship to a man.  His unconditional love and acceptance of that man.  And how that grace and lack of judgment pulled the man out of the pit of depression and angst.  Mister Rogers gave the quiet, sincere support of a good friend who promised to “be proud” of the man.  In the presence of that grace, the man changed and his life was redeemed from the pit.

Mister Rogers and Peck the Pixar bird.  An unlikely pair, but a pair that is making me think of grace.

Yikes

July 23, 2010

….I’ve not been doing great with the blog-a-day challenge.  I have great ideas floating in my head, and seemingly no time to get them down here.

Stay tuned…

More Inception

July 19, 2010

Two days later, the movie Inception is still working it’s way through my mind.  A few thoughts:

Dave saw it again and paid attention to some extra details, namely, the presence of Cobb’s wedding ring when he was in reality, leading us to assume, in fact, that the end WAS real and not another dream. Still maddeningly unclear, though.

But the fact that it IS unclear is what is so intriguing about this film.  Life is confusing, and there is a sense that where we live, breathe, eat, and sleep is not ultimate reality.  Do we, in our dreams, somehow attain to a more real state?  Certainly, as a Christian, I hold to the fact that where we are living now is “the Shadowlands,” and as George MacDonald points out, we are longing for the land from whence the shadows fall.  But Cobb’s dreams reflect not heaven or perfection, but rather, his subconscious mind struggling to grieve and let go of his wife, who got confused about which world was really real, and which was the dream.

Or did she?  The things that make the dream world so appealing are the ability for the people in them to create.  Creating is one of the great fulfilling things of humanity, but always limited, always somewhat frustrated in our current state.   Cobb says to his friend regarding Ariadne, “She’ll be back.  Once you’ve created a dream, reality just doesn’t cut it anymore.”  (That’s a paraphrase.)  Then there is the image of all those sleeping men in – ? – a middle Eastern country, maybe? – who go everyday to sleep for hours, or as their guide says, “to wake up.”  What’s that about, aside from the longing to escape the reality of this imperfect world we live in, and to experience ultimate reality.  And, as a Christian who believes that paradox does indeed seem to be at the heart of most truths, it’s uncomfortably similar to the idea that we must “die unto life.”

Another thought I had about the movie, if we put aside all the talk about which world was really real, was the sense of the sadness and disconnect of trying to reach a person who is struggling with depression or mental illness.  The grief and misery of Cobb was palpable as he watched his wife with her delusional thoughts, her insistence that suicide was the only way, and her attempts to bring him with her, seemingly out of love but ultimately out of selfishness… What a sad, real picture of the struggles of a person dealing with mental illness!  And Cobb had his guilt, because he planted the idea in her mind.  My heart breaks for these fictional people who need grace!  To forgive each other and themselves.

One more thought:  to continue in my nerdy obsession with the Harry Potter stories, I can’t help but think of Book Five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, where Voldemort uses “Inception” to lure Harry to the Dept. of Mysteries.  Showing him the way through the shelves, planting the idea that there is something there he must get.  Harry thinks it’s his own idea, and is confident in its reality when he speeds to the supposed rescue of Sirius Black, but alas!  He should have practiced his Occlumency, so that there would have been machine-gun-wielding protectors in his mind, doing high-speed chases and shooting like crazy, to keep Voldemort far from his secrets.  Okay, I think this last paragraph officially puts me over into the deep end.  I better stop now.

Here’s Bridget. I just found her playing with the parakeets. She had positioned herself and the birds by the door, where our poor cat could look in and drool…

A Rainy Day…

January 19, 2010

…and Bridget starts climbing the walls.

Today as I drove home from church, this was the conversation I heard:

Phoebe: What’s your favorite color? Mine is yellow, because that is the color of the streets of heaven.

Bridget: Brown.

Phoebe: Why brown?

Bridget: Because it is the color of the cross Jesus died on, and the color of Santa’s reindeer.

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