Moot of Hutch ’16: It’s Not Too Late

radner-lake
Radnor Lake Trail, Nashville

I’m still in Nashville. Anticipating the need to assimilate thoughts after Hutchmoot, I planned in a couple of extra days here. I’m putting off re-entry. Apparently it’s time for my (yearly?) blog entry.

Today I’m thinking about how it’s not too late, and this thought is a balm for my soul. Somehow I had slipped into an unnamed shapeless sort of running-in-the-background fear that said I was kidding myself if I thought I could really do music, like, for real.

People work for decades to be good at this craft. Yes, I started when I was 4, but what do I have to show for it? Haven’t I been just “family-ing” for fifteen years–having babies, homeschooling and such? Where are the songs? How did I manage to let so much time go by and produce so little. If you need to write 1000 terrible songs to get 10 good ones, then the eight songs I’ve written this past year must, statistically, all stink pretty badly. If singing and songwriting are truly my calling, how could I be so neglectful?

But Jack and Tollers didn’t know when they were flipping a coin in the pub, that they were “Jack and Tollers flipping a coin in the pub.” That coin toss would result in Gandalf and Aslan, but they didn’t know it yet. They were just themselves. They were older than I am now. They had no appreciation for the momentousness of the scene in which they found themselves. I think of Diana Glyer and her 20 years of research on the Inklings. I am thankful that she persisted after the litany of NOs from the publishing world. Would Hutchmoot even exist if she had given up? I silently thank the person who told her that he would, “see it for her until she could see it for herself.” I think Carrie Givens would call him a “namer.”

I remember moving to Colorado when I was 11. I went to a private Christian school. I had been moved up a grade and as such was the youngest kid in the 7th grade. The school was so small that there were only three girls in my class. The other two girls were best friends since first grade. They made fun of me. They ridiculed everything from my general inexperience in life to the clothes I wore to the way I chewed my food. I would come home after school and cry. My mom would hold me. One day she murmured, “Maybe someday you will write songs about this.” It was a small consolation, but I did believe that one day I would write those songs.

I think the power of her naming songwriting for me helped shape the things I was enduring into a framework that allowed for the possibility that someday they would be redeemed. The naming kindled hope. Even in my young mind, I began to understand that my suffering could help someone else. When I was in my early twenties, and I read about the disciples who rejoiced that they had been “counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name,” (Acts 5:41) it rang true deep inside me.

I knew, even before I could read, that music was what I was “supposed” to do. So here I am, in my forties, and I have never recorded an album. I could look at the lack of musical accomplishment as a great personal loss. I could feel an overwhelming heaviness about what could (should?) have been if I had only concentrated on my music. Some days that is what I do. I picture me, hiding my talents in a hole, and I am devastated with regret.

Other days, I look at how I did spend my time: I earned a degree. I taught French to middle-schoolers. I opened up a photography studio that helped feed our children when my husband lost his job. I gave birth to four children, my sweet darlings. Though flawed and fallen ourselves, my husband and I have been intentional about raising them up in the way they should go. I have been singing on the same church worship team for something like 18 years. I have learned to grab onto joy wherever it surfaces. I have learned that I must seek out beauty and goodness. I have learned that it is essential to remain vulnerable in the midst of suffering.

When children learn to speak, the process requires “comprehensible input.” The child needs to hear the language and understand what is being said. Children typically spend months or years taking it all in and arranging it in their little brains before they themselves begin to speak.  Maybe, in the same way, I have been collecting “comprehensible input” for all these years and am now ready to begin speaking the language of song. Maybe the joys, triumphs, sorrows and losses have lead me to glimpses of truth that I can share with others. Maybe this was the plan all along.

And so my heart resounds again, IT IS NOT TOO LATE. It is not too late.

This post reminds me of a song. Here it is:

5 Replies to “Moot of Hutch ’16: It’s Not Too Late”

  1. Thank you for sharing, Teressa! I can empathize so hard with the “What have I been doing these last ______ years” as well as the “it’s not too late.” In the Saturday song circle, I was so encouraged when Hannah said she’d only been writing songs for four years and then again in the same session when the unnamed gentleman shared that he’d started writing songs at 39 at Rebecca Reynolds’s urging.
    I’m so glad we got to meet in person. Here’s to fresh songs built on past experiences. 😀

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