There is a conference that happens the first weekend of October in Nashville, and has been happening for about eight years. Tickets go on sale in Spring and in the past have sold out in a matter of seconds. I was one of the fortunate few lucky enough to grab a ticket three years ago. I almost didn’t go, and I wrote about that here. This year I didn’t even try for the ticket, because I just didn’t have the funds or the time.
Until the last minute, a few days before the conference and an extra ticket was offered up on FaceBook. I went for it. I splurged. It was a spontaneous moment. I didn’t really think through all the consequences, I just knew that I needed refreshment. I needed to be among this group of people, represented by a pipe smoking rabbit. Crazy, right?
Hutchmoot. This oddly named, hard to define gathering of creative people desiring to foster wonder, desiring to instill a theologically infused wonder into our bruised world…this conference always refreshes. Filled with writers and painters, singers and songwriters, musicians and chefs, and people who appreciate all of this. Somehow it even refreshes those of us who don’t get to go, just by listening to the testimony of those who have gone.
This year, though, I jumped and decided to attend. Honestly? It was a bit of a challenge. The conference meets about 50 miles from my house. The husband and the eldest were in St Louis at a hockey tournament, while I was home with the other three kiddos. Which meant while the conference was happening, I was running between the conference and tutorials and soccer games and home and friends homes. I was not completely at home or completely at the conference.
It was all a bit inconvenient. No. Not a bit. It was inconvenient.
You know what?
It was worth it.
The bit of the concert we caught on Thursday night, the bit my husband and two of the kids attended…completely worth it. They got it. They caught a glimpse of what Hutchmoot was about. The session Friday morning on hospitality and the importance of the table I caught, after catching a bit of ‘Muffins with Mommy’ at the tutorial (which was thankfully two miles from the conference) with the younger kids…completely worth it. Completely. Lunch with a friend and a new friend, then driving home with kiddos and settling them in before running back to the conference for a bit of the dinner and evening conference? Well, that was kind of a pain, but worth it.
Saturday…dropping some kids at the soccer field and other kids at a friend’s house, then watching hockey games and soccer games on periscope while waiting for sessions to begin, then engaging in sessions and conversation? Yep…you guessed it. Worth it. Deciding to leave the conference before the evening session…difficult. Laughter at home with the kids was good.
I drove 350 miles over two days. I switched gears between parent and conference participant I don’t know how many times. I tried to take notes and gave up. I worshipped, listened to concerts and drove miles. It was inconvenient. It cost a fair bit of money. It was, honestly stressful.
It took work. Work for me, work for my friends helping me out with letting my kids hang out with them and coaches giving kids rides home.
What is the point?
Refreshment is important, it was important enough to work to get there.
Find it. Search it out.
We are in a bruised and broken world. The week of the conference was the week of the shooting in Las Vegas. The week of brutality and fear and sorrow. The weeks leading up to the conference were hurricanes and floods. Now there are fires. Our world is broken, bruised and so in need of hope and wonder. Gospel. Refreshement.
That refreshment takes work.
The conference took great effort and work…we benefitted from the effort and discipline and work of all the session leaders and the workers who put together beauty in words and music and visuals. Months of planning, disciplines that have been developed. Thoughts and ideas and lectures prayed over and discussed and edited and revised. A vision for refreshment and encouragement and hope…and inspiration. And we benefitted. From all this work.
In some ways, this year was even better for me. I did not get to connect as much with people, but each time I walked in to the building I took a deep breath and had to intentionally change my focus. I had to set aside all the busyness it took to get to the conference…and take in the moments I had there. I had to make the most of the time I had in that setting of refreshment. The conference took work for me this year…lots of planning and effort to make it to just two sessions and a bit of two concerts. It cost me a bit more, and I paid attention more as a result.
Now, I am able to reflect and read some of the books I picked up. I’m able to take the time I need to think and to pray and to listen. I am able to hopefully allow what was begun at the conference to come to fullness…and to have an impact on those around me. The work continues now. The work the conference presenters did continues in me so that I am prepared to offer refreshment to those who are in need. When those come to the door, or to our table…we need to have done the work so we have something to offer.
So…when a conference comes your way that sparks your attention, go. When a book grabs your attention and inspires you and the Spirit awakens you, pay attention. When you find a space that brings you refreshment, be thankful, and go there. Don’t feel bad about carving out spaces for reading and having coffee and finding beauty. Go for walks, and pray. Splurge and go to the conference or the concert. Sing loudly in worship each Sunday. Refresh your spirit and pay attention as God speaks…and make the spaces around you to refresh others. It takes work. It takes paying attention. It takes being intentional.
Sometimes it takes being spontaneous and splurging and going to crazy conferences with goofy names in the midst of crazy schedules…but they might just give you the lift and inspiration you need, and refresh your spirit. You might just inspire someone else as a result.
(I grabbed the picture of the leaf and the “Every Moment Holy” from the Rabbit Room Instagram feed )