Hutchmoot: Homebound, a seat at the table for everyone. Trusting these words to be true, my seventeen high school students and I registered for this online conference, hoping it would feel welcoming and inviting. The event was more than we could have hoped or imagined.
I wanted the students to feel like an integral part of Hutchmoot. They were not too young to learn, grow, and share their experiences. We placed our photo on the map of attendees, which immediately reminded us that we were not alone; we were part of an extended Hutchmoot family that spanned the world. The stories, music, poetry, and recipes (and even kazoos!) all made us feel part of something bigger than ourselves.
I required my students to watch several sessions of their choosing and write responses. These teenage students found a joy that they did not expect. Playing games and having songs sung over them, picture books read to them, and liturgies spoken to them was a breath of fresh air. They didn’t realize how much they needed this beauty until they found themselves in the middle of it.
We all watched Malcolm Guite’s session because, well, we love Malcolm Guite, and we regularly read his poetry in class. This was one of my favorite thoughts from one of my students:
“Malcolm Guite explains that he writes formal poetry not because free verse or other forms of prose are inferior, but because having set standards that force creativity can in actuality set him free. With this knowledge, we should not simply read to feel, but sit with it in deep meditation and reflection. Words have much reasonable power when left to the trained imagination. Guite continues to show that only by the development of our interpretations can we ‘perceive the poem of our existence.’”
One student wrote about “Bright Sadness” by Jill Phillips: “She was able to capture the pain every believer must suffer to be able to experience the grace of Christ, and it was powerful.” Another quoted David Taylor’s words: “The Psalms provide grammar to speak to God.” The theme of hope continued in this student’s reflection on Inkmoot: “As I watched the process, the long, detailed process, it made me wonder and ask, in spite of COVID-19, how does this small pause in our lives impact this image? How have I been changed, so as to play my role better in His art as a whole?”
One of my favorite responses came after the session by Hutchmoot chef John Cal. “I really enjoyed the details John used when describing his favorite childhood meal,” the student wrote. “It reminded me of my dad a lot, the way he likes his eggs; how he doesn’t enjoy ketchup but loves Tabasco. One thing he came back to a few times was that we believe we live in a world where there isn’t enough, and maybe we don’t have enough money, or space, or time, but God gave us the capacity to be able to create. We can make something out of what seems like nothing; we can make more to be enough.”
We all connected with Joshua Luke Smith. His talent with music and words were amazing, and we discussed that if we could meet him in person, we would want to be his instant best friend. We knew he would pay attention and listen to us. Sunday worship was impactful and beautiful, and we longed to watch the video again and again.
We need to make time and space in our lives for this kind of creative renewal. Our creativity is a gift, and we must use these gifts to make the world a better place. Cindy Anderson
Steve Taylor has said that “a true artist is always learning.” My students are true artists. They are varied in skills and passions, but they are always learning and discovering their gifts. I am grateful for Hutchmoot: Homebound. My class could not have experienced the conference without the online opportunity. I hope classrooms, families, homeschool co-ops, and community groups will gather together for Hutchmoot: Homebound 2021 to learn and grow together. We need to make time and space in our lives for this kind of creative renewal. Our creativity is a gift, and we must use these gifts to make the world a better place. My students know this is true, but to spend a few days being reminded of that truth is needed now more than ever.
My students will not be writing session responses this year; instead, we will be writing letters to the speakers and artists who impact us the most. This will be our artistic endeavor—sending gratitude for the invitation of expanding our knowledge and our community.