"Ooh, that's good! I better jot that down." It's a thought many of us had throughout the weekend. I was in Nashville attending that blessed convergence of wisdom and kindness, beauty and truth, ideas and service called Hutchmoot.
I reached for my notebook, opened it, and started with surprise. For there staring back at me was a ferociously whimsical face. It had disproportionate eyes, an open mouth, jagged teeth, and a single strand of hair atop an otherwise-bald head. Who sketched this creature and left it for me to uncover? Was it boredom that bore this beast? Was it mischief? Did the monster bubble up from the deep well of delight? Did he spring from some chasm of unnamed fear? However it came to be, it came to me as a gift.
Faces flashed to mind, faces of children I know and love, faces of those who know me and love me still. My story is not one of new characters, plots, and places, but of recognizable ones. I continually bump into people from my past: former coaches, teachers, and friends. I trod familiar ground: my home church, my alma mater, childhood playgrounds. Just last month, I stood in my high school gym and coached volleyball alongside my Freshman coach. I bought a house next door to the place I played as a kid. At Hutchmoot, I sat in on a session led by Andrew Peterson, singing Rich Mullins songs alongside the man who introduced me to the music of both. Memories rise and mingle with the present.
And yet, I only see a pinch of the history in these places, only a fraction of the narrative written in the lines of these faces. There’s enough gold in them hills to mine for a lifetime. There’s enough mystery to keep a girl searching, enough wonder to keep her seeing anew. There’s enough sadness to bring her to her knees, and enough joy to fill her days with laughter.
I remember sitting in attendance at the first Hutchmoot, observing the friendships around me. I longed so desperately to have what I saw. I even prayed for such a community. And God answered my prayer. No, a new group of people hasn't moved in, and no, I haven't moved, but something has moved in me. Instead of giving me what I saw, God allowed me to see what I had. I have a community. We all do. And I'm beginning to see the people I come in contact with each day, not as I wish they were, but as they actually are.
As a child, I remember marveling at the fact that I have control of when my fingers move. I once asked my mom, “What if I wasn’t me? What if I were someone else?” It’s a thought that baffles me still. Why this place? Why this time? Why this plot of earth and this passel of people? I can’t reason out an answer to those questions, but I can live out one. Here I sit at the crossroads of the past and the future. And it is here, right now in this present moment, that God’s kingdom can come to, in, and through me.
The sketch in my notebook stands as a reminder. It's a reminder of you, my friends and neighbors. It's a reminder of all who daily share their thoughts, food, home, time, and yes, even their art with me. I look upon this drawing and thank God for you. More than marks upon a paper, you leave an imprint upon my heart. You are to me, a living letter of Christ, "written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" (2 Cor. 3:3).