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Hutchmoot: Marching Orders August 23, 2010

Posted by markgeil in Church, Philosophical musings.

[This is the fifth and final log in my Hutchmoot diaries. Scroll down on the home page to start from the beginning.]

The esteemed Mr. Wangerin was kind enough to humor a long line of well-wishers and autograph-seekers following his address. It’s a funny thing, the autograph. Here I was in a room full of musicians I greatly admire, with a car full of their CDs, yet I did not ask a single one for an autograph. But I had no hesitation to get my copy of the Book of Sorrows inscribed. Are autographed books cooler than autographed CDs?

One more call from home and I learned that prayers were answered and all was well with Rebekah. She and Amy made it home from the ER safely and I breathed relief while Amy devoured a several-hours-late dinner. I had sat way in the back for the Wangerin talk so I could hop in and out for phone calls, but with my family safely home I ventured forward, and for the second straight night took a front-row seat at a concert. This was a gathering of the Square Pegs Alliance, a group of singer-songwriter types who get the concept of capital-S-Story. I was amused by the motley piles of guitars and cases on either side of the platform. One of the cases was all covered in some kind of silver foil. It looked like a Jiffy-Pop to me.

It is not often that I think much about what Heaven will be like. I figure it is my certain destination and it is bound to be better than anything I could imagine, so I just don’t dwell on it much. That evening, though, the thought occurred to me that this might all be a lot like Heaven. There, in a church, among a group of people with a common love for Creator and creativity, words were sung and melodies were played for the sake of God but also for the things that make His children, like beauty, humor, and love.

Each of the ten performers took two turns at the microphone, in order, without introduction or excessive fanfare. They played whatever song seemed to fit, accompanied by just enough words to make it all make sense. They backed each other up sometimes, and borrowed each others’ gear, all for the sake of the Story. See? Heavenly.

And then there was the camel song. Right in the middle of it all, Randall Goodgame took his second turn at the mic and sheepishly (but provocatively) declared, “I can’t believe I’m going to do this next song.” It’s from his upcoming Christmas album for kids, and it opens with a stern and appropriate castigation: “Everybody loves the camel song. Why don’t you?” As I listened to the many virtues of the camel, I kept wondering how he was going to turn this into a Christmas song. For me, the odds were on a Magi-carrying dromedary seen in some of those plastic Nativity sets. Oh, was I wrong! The Camel Song took a sudden turn into a galaxy far, far away, reminded us of the name of those big hairy white beasts from the beginning of Empire Strikes Back, rhymed the name of the actor playing Luke Skywalker with the song’s namesake, and triumphantly pronounced the Tauntaun a “Christmas Camel!” See? Heavenly.

The last artist took the last turn at the mic, and we were reminded of the temporal again. Andrew Peterson said a few parting words and then suggested we close with the Doxology. In all my days I’ve never heard a sweeter sound. The sanctuary could not contain the worship. There were harmonies upon harmonies, and the sound so completely swelled that I felt the fullness all around me. The last word was sung – “Amen” – and we all stood, motionless, desperate for it not to end. In Heaven, it won’t.

I fumbled out of the room with the shimmer of the music still lighting my ears. It had grown quite late, but I was still desperate for this to not end, so I went to the living room for the so-called fireside chinwag. There, in the little kitchen and not near the fireside, because when people chinwag they universally do so in the kitchen, I had a lovely chat with Whit and with AP’s wife and children. I thought of my own sweet wife and children, safe and sound back home, and I smiled.

Sunday morning brought church, Anglican style, an abundant brunch at a place called the Copper Kettle, and a final session in which four authors read chapters of their books. At the worship service I delighted in hymns, Psalms, and – get this – not even the Apostles’ Creed but the Nicene Creed! At the Copper Kettle I delighted in the opportunity to alternate bites of omelet, beef, and pastry over warm conversation and recollection. Storytelling, it was. At the final session I delighted in Jonathan Rogers’ Georgia accent, and I decided I want him to read me a bedtime story every night, if that’s not too weird.

And then, I went home. The drive was pleasant, as always, and gave me time to reflect. As so many have said, it was indeed wonderful to be in a room with all these like-minded and similarly-interested people. It was a privilege to sit under the tutelage of so many gifted artists. I learned from their topics and their words, but I also learned from just being around them. I learned that they all seem to “feel” more deeply than I do. You might not believe it from my maudlin stories, but I’m still pretty analytical at heart. I noticed something else, too. Over and over I heard a speaker confess feelings of inadequacy and fears of failure. They would stand on a stage and speak of the times when they did not want to stand on a stage, when they struggled to see themselves as God sees us.  Again, I am quite different. My confession is not feeling inadequate, it’s feeling too adequate. My pride makes me long for the stage and the spotlight, and I am too quick to think I belong there.  It is instructive to understand these differences and to know we’re on the same team, seeking the same goals.

More than anything, I grasped a newfound appreciation for story itself. I’ve always appreciated art for art’s sake, but I can appreciate it so much more when I understand from whence it came and to what end. Beyond that, I understand the power and responsibility that comes with storytelling. We don’t just share our small portion of the one great Story. We must know that in the telling, we have an effect on others. These, then, are my marching orders, spoken by Wangerin. These are the words that will give me pause every time I tell a silly bedtime story to my kids, or prepare a talk for the kids at Awana, or post on this blog, or interview some musician and write about it.

“This is what shapers do for those who have neither universe, nor personhood, nor name: We weave the world around them.”



1. The Rabbit Room - August 26, 2010

[…] Hutchmoot: Marching Orders, from Mark Geil […]

2. S.D. Smith - August 26, 2010

Hey Mark,

Thanks for the ongoing series, excellent stuff. It was great to read and be back at HM again.

I updated your posts at both my website…

and at the RR…

Thanks a bunch.

It was great to meet you. Let’s stay in touch.

3. S.D. Smith - August 26, 2010

Also, I like the part in the last post where you correctly identify me as “really Sam.” I am really Sam. It’s true.

4. Hutchmoot Hub (A Collection Of All ‘moot-related Blogposts, Websites, Etc.) | S.D. Smith - September 2, 2010

[…] Hutchmoot: Marching Orders, from Mark Geil […]

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