I wish I could go back in time and capture in stop motion the evolution of an idea. If I could, I would try to capture the formation of the Rabbit Room from its inception when it was not much more than an idea to the community it has now become.
I was fortunate to be one of the original contributors to this site. Back then, we were nothing more than a collection of untested writers—most of us anyway. But what we had in common was a love of art and a respect for the way it can serve as a hammer and chisel in the hands of God.
The blog began as a wood-paneled list of entries on subjects ranging from Lyle Lovett’s Road to Ensenada to an essay on self-righteousness told by way of a story about failing to recycle paint cans to a brilliant little piece A. S. Peterson wrote about pickles. We were taking some of our first swings at writing blog posts and finding our voices. I, for one, was awkward as a middle-schooler, all knees and elbows.
But the life really came, in my opinion, when people began to post comments. Redhead Kate, S. D. Smith, Dave Bruno, and a host of others pulled their chairs up to the table and joined in the conversation. We began to come to know each other a bit.
Occasionally we offended people, sure. This is the internet, after all. Much of the time we apologized civilly when we did. We fought to keep a spirit of peace, urging folks who wanted to debate online to go over to the zillion other sites that existed for that very purpose. We didn’t want the Rabbit Room to be a place for tearing down what we found wrong with the world. We wanted to tell each other about what we found to be true, beautiful, and rich.
The names on the masthead have changed some over the years, but this little experiment in forging a “virtual community” in the hope that it would become a real one, well, it happened.
Then came Hutchmoot, where many who had only typed little lines of text to each other met in person and embraced like old friends. Some of them fell in love and got married. (Now a host of mini-Moots continue to happen around the country.)
Somewhere in there Rabbit Room Press was born, bringing a precious few titles into the world, with names like Peterson, Shive, and now (gasp!) Wangerin Jr. on the spine.
Then came the Molehill—that esteemed anthology where the footnotes alone are worth the price of the book.
And The Local Show—a seasonal weekly offering where a variety of musicians gather at a coffee house and trade songs in the round.
Social media pages also crept in as more places where folks from this growing community have shared ideas, prayer requests, humor, and actual needs others in that community have been able to meet.
The Rabbit Room went live in 2007 (I believe)—almost eight years ago. A lot has changed. But I am very thankful for this community. I am thankful for all the folks who keep this thing going. I am thankful for the venue it has provided for me to begin to learn the craft and love of writing. I am thankful for the lives it has drawn together who would not have met otherwise (this is where I met some of my best friends in the world.) I am thankful for the promise of all that is to come.
This little venture has far exceeded anyone’s expectations. What can we expect but that the future will bring more of the same? May it be so by the grace of God.
So on the eve of the new year, I raise a glass to the Rabbit Room Community at large. May we be a place that welcomes people in. May we continue to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. And may our love for what is true and beautiful continue to deepen as our new friendships transform before us into sturdy old ones.