Photo: K. Dagen

Photo: K. Dagen

I am finally able to sit down in silence with this piece of scrap paper covered in scribbles of half-processed and fast-written thoughts; a slight drizzle drips outside, a cup of hot tea in hand (although where’s the crisp air?), and a cuddly kitten on my lap (who can’t quite seem to decide if she wants to stay or go).

Yes, I can write now.

The top of the paper says “Hutchmoot.”

After five years of dreaming about it, I was finally able to make it to Hutchmoot. That’s a long time. Also, it seems, the best time. A year earlier would have been too soon. A year later, possibly, too late. I entered into Hutchmoot at the tail end of stripping so many things away that don’t belong to me or who I am. I arrived at the precipice of entering into a truthfulness, staring down into it from that cliff of doubt and practicalities, but filled with the courage to finally jump. I knew deep in my spirit that this weekend would give me the wings to glide off. I knew that I was ready.

Yet, as I entered the doors of Hutchmoot on the first day, paging through all of the books, observing the artwork and listening to the conversation, an all too familiar voice whispered to me, “You don’t belong here.” The lie is deeply rooted in the fall of humanity. This lie I have been tempted to believe most of my life. Many times I have reached out and chosen this lie. Many times I have accepted it. I have chosen it out of self-doubt and perfectionism, thinking I could never be good enough. I have chosen it out of protection from opportunities and dreams and people and relationships that I long for and love deeply, that mean so much to me I would break to be rejected. It’s a lie that has usually left me on the outside looking in. This is a lie that seperates.

Photo: K. Dagen

Photo: K. Dagen

Thankfully, the spirit of Hutchmoot is a Kingdom spirit. Thankfully, the Kingdom spirit sings over the lies. The lies feel stupid amidst all the beauty, and they leave. They quickly realize they have no power, even to the smallest of humans, standing on the edge of the cliff, peering off into the abyss below, wings strapped on tight. The fog below ebbs in and out, giving way to patches of intense clarity. Yes, there’s something down there.

I hesitantly walked into the auditorium on the first day for the first plenary, not knowing what to expect, only to be quickly and warmly scooped up by Hutchmoot veterans before I could even find a seat. I would soon find out I was in a place where the welcoming speech mostly consisted of comforting all the introverts. A place where people don’t ask the dreaded, “So what do you do?” - but rather, “What do you create?” or  “What do you write?” or “Why are you here?” A place where even the chef is a writer, and even the meals are immersed in story and meaning. I was in a place where you don’t have to constantly be on the lookout for “your people” because you’re already surrounded by them. A place where every form of artistic expression is deeply woven into each other.

I was in a room full of resonators, and the ring of our notes playing off of each other was loud enough to drown out a thousand lies.  

And the truth is, if I don’t belong there, than I truly don’t belong anywhere. Hutchmoot - it’s essence, is mission, its values, its people, its joy, its community, its passion, its vision, everything! - embodies who I’m becoming as a person. It embodies who I’ve always been. It embodies who I am.

I am a writer. I am a creator. I am a servant in a Kingdom of beauty, with the gift of the eyes to see it, and the responsibility to show it to others.

Hutchmoot gave me the permission to create. It said “YES” to all that needed affirmed. It surrounded me with a group of people to cheer me on, some from the top and some from the bottom, as I leap off of the cliff.

So here I go, awkwardly winged, into the fullest of truths.

The Voice that I love says, “Welcome home. You have arrived.”


Photo: K. Dagen

Photo: K. Dagen

the most precious resource 

on december 21

is light.


and on december 22

we exhale, assured

that today there is more of it

and tomorrow even more and 

more and 

more after that,

until the world is 

aflame with redemption.

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
— John 12:46

These words of Jesus' came in the midst of a confusing time, a deciding time, in which those who had been hearing his teachings and believed him had to decide whether they valued their own convictions over the praise of men (Pharisees). His words are a statement of hope for those struggling to break out of the chrysalis of expectations their Jewish world had built around them.

Yet, only days later this hope appeared to end as Jesus died a criminal's death. But as we know, this end was not in fact the end, but a fulfillment; it was not just the death of Jesus but the death of death's ultimate power over humanity. 

This story of hope is familiar to us, as are Jesus' words about light. But on the Saturday before the resurrection, it was not yet a story of hope. It was a story of darkness.

Often the story of our world seems like a story of darkness. In Advent, a season of waiting and longing in our chrysalis for the light to break through, the weather and the church calendar can appear to agree: the world is bleak and dark.

But December 21st, the winter solstice and darkest day of the year, is like the Saturday before the resurrection. Except unlike the disciples in the first century who weren't sure what the next day would hold, we know! Even when we don't see evidence of what is hoped for, the complete restoration and redemption of the world, we know Jesus has come - and so we hope and we wait for the light to increase. We bask in hope like the light of the sun, which we cannot create, but only behold and enjoy.

The light is coming, the light has come, the light is growing longer and brighter every day. Jesus is the light. He is coming, he has come, and he will come again. On literal and figurative winter solstices, let us remember he is still at work in the world. Let us be people who love the light, who live in the light, and anticipate the amplification of it.



Sallie lives and works in Lancaster, Pa. She loves the natural world, reading, writing, walking, and her fiancé. Her undeniable passions are Mary Oliver, tea, and talking. Sallie shares her poetry on Instagram @sallieforth