Hutchmooters to be exact.
(For those who don’t know, Hutchmoot is a conference-gathering-feast-reunion-thing in the Nashville area for people who love music-art-story-food and who are happy-sad-hurting-joyful-empty-full-introvert-extrovert-questioning-seeking-weary-hungry.)
Two lies linger in my mind before every Hutchmoot.
- You shouldn’t be here.
- You don’t belong.
The first time I attended, I knew that I shouldn’t be there. I had said as much. Things were in crisis mode at home. Everything felt out of control.
“I need to cancel my tickets for this thing I’m supposed to attend,” I told the counselor. I couldn’t even bring myself to say “Hutchmoot” because then I would have to try to explain it and I couldn’t.
He looked straight at me. “You have to go,” he said firmly.
And so I went, knowing I shouldn’t.
Ben Shive gave a session that year about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. He talked about how Brian walked around with his hand over his heart because he was afraid it would fall it.
I walked around all weekend with my hand on my heart, too. It was falling out.
You shouldn’t be here. The words ran through my mind and my heart over and over.
A young man introduced himself to me as I sat alone waiting for Hutchmoot to begin. I looked at him — his baby face, curly hair, funky glasses — and thought, I could be his mother.
I looked around at the other people trickling in and suddenly felt very old.
More than once I was asked what I did. Many of them were authors, singers, songwriters, artists. A bunch more were professionals of one sort or another.
“I’m a mom,” I said.
Each time I said it, I heard the ugly whisper in my heart — You don’t belong.
Who was I to think that I could possibly fit in with all these talented, accomplished, young, vibrant people? I’m just a mom — and a very tired one, at that.
Yet, that year, and in subsequent years, those talented, accomplished, young, vibrant people welcomed me into their midst. They waved me over to sit at their table. They saved seats for me in the sanctuary. They stood beside me at the book table and made awkward, forgiving small talk.
They shared themselves with me.
And gave me opportunity to share myself with them.
During that first Hutchmoot, my heart finally did fall out.
In the kitchen.
On Saturday night.
I wept on the shoulder of the man who was young enough to be my son.
He didn’t tell me that I shouldn’t be there. He didn’t say that I didn’t belong.
“I’m glad you came,” he said. “I’m glad you’re here.”
I was — and am — too.
Blessed are the Mooters for they are allowed a taste of heaven.