What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.C. S. Lewis
I daresay this is quoted every year at Hutchmoot.
Muppets from Space is also oft-referenced. That’s the movie where Gonzo (in a dream) is denied entrance to Noah’s Ark because he doesn’t have a partner of the same species but where he eventually (in real life) finds others just like him.
Some of my closest friends are people I met at Hutchmoot.
At my very first Hutchmoot, they had a storytelling evening. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things ever that they have done. Great stories told by great storytellers. I’ve asked if we could do it again and the answer was something like, “I don’t think we could ever top that one.”
I think they would be surprised. It was amazing, but the world is full of amazing people who experience amazing things. The folks who attend Hutchmoot tend to be attuned to the amazing that’s all around them.
Apparently, before Hutchmoot 2011, they had run some sort of contest where people could submit stories and then they chose two to read that night. I still remember one — a tender story about two trees and about the writer’s grandmother. (“Two Trees” can be read here.)
The woman who wrote it stood up shyly afterwards to receive applause. I watched her and felt her discomfort right along with her. Also, I was in awe at the beauty of her words. Oh, I wished I could write like that!
The next year, she was there again, and she spoke to me. I’m 99% sure that I said something stupid.
I thought that was the end of that until, a few weeks after Hutchmoot, she reached out to me via Facebook. I’m 99.9% sure that I rebuffed her overture of friendship. I didn’t feel like I was in the same strata as her.
She called me out. She wrote back saying something like, “Who decides who I can and cannot be friends with?”
And, with that, we began a long correspondence.
I told her things I had never said aloud to anyone, but somehow, it felt okay to tell Alyssa.
We wrote back and forth, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, but rarely letting much time pass without one of us checking in on the other.
We prayed for each other through challenging times. She’s been with me through three deaths in my family. I was with her through a foreign adoption and some health issues.
A few years later, I was at a retreat put on by the Rabbit Room (the same people who put on Hutchmoot) at Laity Lodge. In a Q&A session, the question was thrown out to the audience that was something like, what do you appreciate most about the Rabbit Room? Or, what is your best takeaway from the Rabbit Room.
I timidly raised my hand. I don’t usually like to speak, but I knew the answer to this one. “Alyssa,” I said. “The greatest gift of the Rabbit Room has been the gift of a close friendship of someone who truly understands me and loves me.”
Do you think I could find a picture of Alyssa for this post? Of course, not!
But this is Leah. We met at Hutchmoot and we traveled to Bosnia together. I love Leah! I could stories about how she has been a huge encouragement to me.
And this is Kim. We met at Hutchmoot. She is such an encourager! She came to a Zaengle wedding. We text frequently. We can’t wait until we can see each other again.
Speaking of seeing each other again — I got to see Alyssa last night. I’m traveling with one of my daughters to look at colleges and were not far from where she lives. It was such a treat to see her, to talk face to face, to laugh together and to share burdens.
Why didn’t I take a picture? Probably social distancing. And the fact that photos weren’t at the front of my thoughts. Just seeing her.
Friendship is the greatest gift of Hutchmoot. Truly.