Two explanations before you read the actual post:
As a parent, I have had to send children back to their rooms to change clothes because the beloved t-shirt/sweatshirt/pair-of-jeans no longer fit.
“Can’t I wear it just one last time?”
“No,” I had to learn to say.
By nature, I am a resistant-to-change person. I cried when our neighbor cut down some pine trees between our houses that had gotten too tall. I blamed my tears on my pregnancy at the time. But I also cried when the village cut down a mostly dead maple in front of our house and I was past child-bearing. In both cases, I never got used to the absence of those trees.
I like things to stay the same.
But children grow.
As do trees.
As do conferences.
On Day One of Hutchmoot 2017, I sat in my car in the parking lot for a long time before walking into the new venue. The walkway looked forebodingly long.
It’s funny — I don’t remember hesitating 7 years ago when I attended my first Hutchmoot. I had arrived on foot after using a hand-drawn map to navigate the tree-lined streets and find the Church of the Redeemer. I walked right in, even though I didn’t know a soul there. By the end of that weekend, I had made lifetime friends.
This year I was afraid of the newness. Afraid I would get lost in a new space. Afraid I would no longer belong.
Like a child sent to put on the new clothes, I wondered if it would be stiff and awkward. I worried if it would be uncomfortable.
I longed for the Church of the Redeemer — for the inside ramp that hosted many conversations, for the little kitchen off the living room that was always full of goodies, for the swing set outside, for the awkward bumping into people as we all tried to navigate the cramped merchandise space.
Once upon a time, two brothers counted forks and knives and spoons in a church kitchen to determine how many guests they could invite to the table. They wondered if people would come to this feast they were planning.
And people came.
Year after year after year…
Until so many hungry souls grasped at the opportunity to come to the feast that the brothers decided they needed a place that had more room at the table.
But I worried that there would be no room for me.
So I sat in the parking lot, staring at a walkway that, though empty, looked like a gauntlet.
When I finally walked in, every fear came to fruition. It was big and uncomfortable. The hallways, which basically formed a triangle, felt like a maze. I forever turned the wrong way.
I looked for familiar faces but saw mostly unfamiliar ones.
Which, as it turned out, was a good thing. I met some delightful people.
It seems that my little Grinch heart still has more sizes to grow — and it grew over the weekend.
Like a new piece of clothing, the new venue became more comfortable over time. Some aspects were definitely better, but others, from the old, I missed.
Ah, regeneration. Chris Eccleston will always be my favorite doctor. Church of the Redeemer will always be my favorite venue for Hutchmoot.
But I gave the Christ Community Church a try. When I pushed away from the table there, I was full.
Full of all the goodness that I have always experienced at Hutchmoot — and maybe a little bit more.