There was a dead beetle on the bathroom floor the night I got home from Hutchmoot.
I thought it was dead, anyway, until I turned on the light. The sudden illumination set off whatever reactions or thoughts would normally send a shiny-backed bug skittering off into darkness. But this bug was going nowhere. It was stuck on its back, flailing in vain for a foothold. It gave up quickly enough – so quickly that I guessed it had been stuck there a long while, exhausting itself with kicking against air.
All I could think was, If N.D. Wilson were here, I bet he could tell me the exact manner in which such bugs are hatched, and the likelihood of this particular bug ever coming into existence, and the chances of its story ever bringing it to my bathroom, and the wonder of it ever being my bathroom to begin with, augmented by the miracle of my own existence. But N.D. Wilson wasn’t there, and I was left to try to do justice to the beetle’s meaning and being on my own.
Having thus considered the bug for a moment, I couldn’t bring myself to kill it. That actually had less to do with my awe at its existence than with my general disinclination to feel and hear a crunchy death under my foot. I also couldn’t muster the compassion to set six little feet aright and watch them scurry into my bedroom.
So I left it to die alone.
[Editor's Note: Thank you for the Hutchmoot reactions you've all been posting. I've tried to read them all and I've enjoyed each of them. Alyssa Ramsey sent this to me last night. She's done a good job of capturing my own thoughts, so I thought I'd post it here. Thanks, Alyssa. --Pete Peterson]
A few days ago I wrote a blog post reflecting on the Hutchmoot weekend. When I finished it and read back over my own words, it was like hoping for an Evie Coates feast but being served Vienna sausages and old socks instead. I had proved Pete Peterson right. At Hutchmoot 2011 he said, “The reader can easily hear the moment you stop telling the truth.”
Those words had nagged at me as I attempted to put the experience into written form. I knew I was not telling the truth—at least not about this year. I was writing what was true a year ago, what I wished were still true, what I thought you would believe.
The truth is, Hutchmoot was a battle for me this year. Not every moment, but some of them. The trouble wasn’t the planning, or the sessions, or the speakers, or the food. It certainly wasn’t the fellowship. It was that I expected you to be Jesus, and you were not.
The painter, my husband, considered the primed surface before him. He made a decision, selected a brush, and began.
It was his fourth year of undergraduate study, and already our home was filled with the offspring of his education. His taste was bold and abstract. Chromium oxide green and cadmium orange, large format, palette knife, and heavy strokes – these were his signature elements.
On this new canvas, he melded the tendencies of his favorite artist with the professor-prescribed style: abstract expressionism. And as visions of Jackson Pollock danced with Wayne Thiebaud in his head, all the best of his skill and style came together. Color, composition, and technique – he wielded them well, and the result was his finest work yet.
The painting was highly favored. We deemed it too valuable to sell.
[Editor's Note: Earlier this year we selected two reader-submitted essays and read them to the assembled masses at Hutchmoot. We got a lot of great submissions and this was one of our favorites. Thanks to Alyssa for letting us read it. Keep up the good work! -Pete]
Two trees stood side by side, and both were doomed.
Around them, trees had been falling for hours. I watched out of the kitchen window as each sassafras giant plunged out of sight behind our privacy fence. With every mighty crash, I felt the ground shake. Now just two remained, waiting amidst the rubble of their generation, exposed and without hope.