I really shouldn’t be here.
That thought ran through my head over and over during my first Hutchmoot in 2011. It was a two-pronged accusation:
My first fear was quickly laid to rest. Hutchmoot is put together and attracts a very warm, friendly, accepting group of people. I felt encouraged. I felt challenged (in a good way). I felt like my cup was filled just by virtue of being there, hearing the music, sitting in the sessions, eating delicious meals in a church basement on a metal folding chair, being surrounded for a whole weekend by loving people who longed for substantive conversation the same way that I did.
My second apprehension was a little harder to allay. Mental health issues are tough. They are private. They are scary. They are misunderstood. They carry a stigma. They hit too close to home sometimes.
But I think that I’m getting ahead of myself. Some of you are probably wondering what a Hutchmoot is. The short answer is that it’s a conference.
From my notes from that first Hutchmoot: “Hutchmoot is the intersection of faith and folks.” And that’s about as good a definition as any of them, but go ahead and google it. Hutchmoot is famously hard to explain. That’s partly why I decided to do my A-to-Z Challenge on it. Maybe enough little stories will help someone understand it in a bigger way.
So, back to September 2011. Early in the month, I had gotten one of those phone calls that parents dread. I had a child in crisis. It upended my life. Most of that story isn’t my story so I won’t tell it, but about two weeks before my flights to Nashville, I was sitting in a counselor’s office and had this conversation:
Counselor: What do you have going on for the next few weeks?
Me: When I get home, I need to cancel some flights for a trip I was planning.
Counselor: What was the trip?
Me: I was supposed to go to this thing in Nashville, but I don’t feel like I can go now. [I think I fumbled around with words trying to explain Hutchmoot.]
Counselor: Why aren’t you going?
Me: Ummm. I can’t. I need to be here.
Counselor: No. You need to go. You need [child’s name] to see that life still goes on.
And, with that, the decision was made.
Sometimes, what looks like a selfish decision — going off to a conference — is actually a selfless decision. Honestly, I didn’t really want to be there. At the counselor’s insistence, and against my own heart, I went.
It was the best thing ever.
More on that tomorrow, when B is for the Beach Boys. Aren’t you curious how they play into Hutchmoot?