This year has been … where shall I begin? Silent, if you consider the post previous to this one, written in January when the only voice I had was a faint and whispery rasp. But it has not been a silent year; many times I’ve wished it could be more quiet. It has been challenging, stretching, humbling — humiliating, in some ways, if I’m honest with myself about the blows to my pride. I have wished so many times, for various reasons, that I could just run away somewhere (mostly to England or Ireland or Scotland or Guernsey) and escape the difficulties of the here and now. But, if I continue to be honest with myself, I know that’s no solution, because where I am, there my problems will be also.
But this year has also contained a good deal of joy, gladness, laughter, fun, excitement, growing, beautiful things, life-giving moments. It has held innumerable instances of unexpected blessing. It has been full of good meals, good conversations, shared lives.
And here is the story of one such unlooked-for blessing. Or the first chapter of the story.
In January or February my friend Kimberly texted me late at night with a link and said “You should go to this!” “This” was Hutchmoot. Hutchmoot is an event created by Andrew and Pete Peterson and their organization The Rabbit Room (rabbits … hutches … you know). I’d read about Hutchmoot before, but the thought of going had never really crossed my mind. This time, however, when I read the description of what Hutchmoot was and was about, I started crying, and my heart ached to experience the beauty there described. I thought, well … maybe … and I looked at the dates. October, starting three days after my birthday. My 30th birthday. October: a busy time of year family- and work-wise. Hmm. I prayed and asked God that, if it was His will I should go, to work out the details, including the necessary time off from work. The next morning, I checked to confirm the weeks in October during which I absolutely had to be at work. The week of Hutchmoot wasn’t one of them. I texted my mom … So, Kim sent me this link to a conference for Christian writers and artists in Nashville in October. It’s not a week I have to be at work. What do you think? In a couple of minutes came her reply: Go for it!
Oh, and did I mention that registration opened that afternoon? Well, after confirming with my boss that I could take the necessary time off, I sat at the computer, every inch of my insides seemingly stuffed with excited butterflies, waiting for the clock to strike the magical hour for tickets to go on sale. After registration finally opened and I secured my ticket I sat at my desk quivering like a jelly who couldn’t stop smiling and sort of crying at the same time.
But it’s a while between February and October, so I had to wait to embark upon this glorious adventure. And I had to figure out things like lodging and how to get from the Nashville airport to Franklin, Tennessee, 20 miles away. Normal people who travel a lot by themselves are used to renting cars and navigating unfamiliar roads, right? Well, I’ve never been normal, most of my traveling has been done with other people, and I am terrible — terrible! — at geography. So there was another adventure awaiting me.
In June I had to write about Key limes for my job and I developed a strong and enduring hunger for Key lime pie, so I decided to have a Key lime pie and Key Largo movie night. The event got pushed into July, and, a week or so before, my mom said one day, “Did you see Hannah S. is back in town? You should get together — she likes doing the kind of things you like.” So I invited Hannah, who I had not seen since I was about 14 and she was 9, to my movie night. And she was an instant and marvelous kindred spirit. Since social media is a weird thing, we found out via Instagram that we were both going to Hutchmoot.
Now, isn’t that crazy? Here I haven’t laid eyes on someone for close to 16 years (though I did sleep in her bed one night last summer when her mother rescued me from Chicago’s Midway airport … but that is another story and will be told at another time), yet we meet again and now have myriad common interests (her eldest brother was one of my best friends when I was 3, incidentally) and are going to the same conference later in the year. I don’t believe in coincedence; I call that a Divine blessing.
Here endeth the first lesson.