Good conversation is a hallmark of Hutchmoot.
We eat our meals together. At my first Hutchmoot, we ate in the basement of The Church of the Redeemer at long tables lined with metal folding chairs.
I actually wrote a cheesy poem about my experience that year.
In a metal folding chair
At the end of table two
I met some friendly people —
Could one of them be you?
For every single meal
My chair was there for me
Always just the same
At table two, not table three.
’cause a moot of hungry rabbits
Can be a daunting sight
For one who’s always awkward
And never fits quite right.
For a timid little bunny —
Oh dear! What will I say? —
My chair at table two
Gave me comfort every day.
So if I didn’t meet you —
And there were quite a few —
It may be that you never sat
And dined at table two.
As hungry as I am for good conversation, I’m also terrified of saying something stupid that reveals the fool that I am. That first year, I chose to sit at the same chair for every meal. It gave me comfort. It was a decision I didn’t have to make again. I just got my food and headed to “my” chair.
The food was amazing. I should write a post on that. Maybe I will.
But what I loved most about the meal times was the conversation. Even when I wasn’t engaged in conversation, I was listening to the buzz of fascinating talk going on around me.
Sometimes friendships begin with a commonality of something that both people love, and sometimes they begin with a common dislike or pet peeve. CS Lewis’ quote — “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!'” — is oft repeated at Hutchmoot. When conversations — really respectful conversations — occur between people with different viewpoints, each person leaves better and wiser. Sometimes friendship is born of that, too.
That first year, I didn’t know it was what I was looking for, but I found the conversations to be a highlight. It’s been that way every year since. The conversation is substantive. It feeds me. While the food is nourishing my body, those words are filling my soul.
I think it was at Hutchmoot that I learned to be a true lover of good conversation.