I’ve been touring colleges during April with my two youngest daughters — one at a time, of course. One daughter at a time, one college at a time.
Looking at colleges in the time of COVID is particularly challenging. Many colleges weren’t offering on-campus in-person tours until recently. Some colleges still aren’t. Some — like the college Laurel and I toured on Wednesday night — offer group events, but then break down the attendees into tiny groups of no more than four people per tour guide.
So we toured a college on Wednesday and were paired with the only people of color who attended the event. Their presence in our little pod made me painfully aware of the lack of people of color on that campus. I found myself looking with new eyes — and hurting a little for them.
I looked back over the few photographs I have from Hutchmoot’s past and my group of people there is decidedly homogenous.
However, an unforgettable Hutchmoot moment came in 2016 when a gospel choir filled the sanctuary of the Church of the Redeemer with the most beautiful music.
In addition, one of the singers called us her jelly biscuits, and then had to educate us on the meaning of that compliment.
I grew up in a decidedly white town. I am slowly growing in my understanding of how other people’s experiences have been different from my own — and I am SO grateful for that.
In 2017, Hutchmoot changed location and more than doubled in size. It also grew in diversity.
Last year, Hutchmoot, like the rest of the world, went virtual and called itself Hutchmoot Homebound. That allowed an unlimited number of attendees so it grew exponentially. I forget the exact number, but it was in the thousands.
Again, it was more diverse. I was exposed to the rapper-spokenwordartist-poet Propaganda. Every time I watched it – and I watched it multiple times – “winsome” was the word that came to my mind to describe him. If someone had told me in 2011 that one of my all-time favorite sessions from Hutchmoot would be given by a black rapper, I wouldn’t have believed them.
It takes all kinds to make a Hutchmoot. I’ve met musicians, visual artists, sculptors, doctors, nurses, computer programmers, someone who works for the FBI, a US marshall, chefs, teachers, stay-at-home moms, writers, poets, photographers, a seamstress, quilters, office workers, pastors, people in transition from one career to another, people who have been at the same position for 40 years, married, unmarried, divorced.
Hutchmoot has no green room. At Hutchmoot, the speakers and performers sit on the same metal folding chairs and eat at the same tables in the same dining area as the rest of us – at the same time as us – sometimes across the table from us.
The playing field is as level as they can make it. This is a great kindness to those of us who feel clumsy, small, and insignificant.
They are working all the time to make that playing field even more level.
Because Hutchmoot is put on by the kindest kind of people. They are seeking to live in ways that honor Christ.
If you were looking for a continuation of my Jonathan story, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait. It’s still there, lurking in some murky area of my brain. I’m thinking “T” if I can get there. I’m 10 days late on “K” though, so who knows.