“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, & he wished to go & see the great mountains, & hear the pine-trees & the waterfalls, & explore the caves, & wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.” The Hobbit, JRR TolkienAt one of the many canvas tents was a mud-oven where re-enactors were baking hardy, brown bread. They were passing it out to all of us when another re-enactor came bounding up to get a piece of the delicious bread too & after a cute little exchange he bounded away again with his fresh & tasty treasure. The girl slicing the bread looked at us with a sparkle in her eye, said "That's my dad." & went back to preparing pieces for us to try & it suddenly hit me- this big event wasn't just a once a year party for us medieval loving people, but for these re-enactors it was a way of life.
After this, I spent about an hour talking with two re-enactors, each dressed to the nines as medieval knights. One was wearing a chain-mail shirt he hand made. During our chat I mentioned the girl & her father & the two re-enactors' eyes lit up. They began telling me how there were 3rd generation re-enactors at the festival, the kids of re-enactors had raised their kids in this sub-culture & now those kids were part of the festival too. Imagination ignited, I tried to picture the life these people led, they were living in the past & present all at once, totally embracing the fullest they could get out of both. They all made their own clothes- even their shoes! They all slept in canvas tents during the festival, eating mutton cooked over open fires, singing old songs & drinking honeyed mead. The REAL festival happened when all us "tourists" left & they got a moment living in the past.
There was something about this that stirred my soul. I'm still searching for an actual name for it, I've been searching for years. The closest I've come to naming it is what writers John Eldridge & Brent Curtis call a "Haunting" in their book The Sacred Romance. Or what Erwin Raphael McManus calls the "Barbarian" in his book The Barbarian Way. These names are great, but for me they still lack something... maybe it's because IT is too big for one or two words. How can we encapsulate a feeling & way of life in one word? All I know is this It, this stirring is raw & gritty. It's sun burnt faces with dirt etched into every wrinkle & pore, it's deep laugh lines & fierce eyes, it's knowing who & Who's you are, it's living boldly & passionately even in the midst of the scariest, deadliest storm. It's the great, big & wild adventure God calls each of us to live.
So often we want our lives to be plastic clean, or just safe & cozy like a warm little hobbit hole I know about, but God's adventure is quite the opposite, I always think of impulsive Peter who was ready to follow Jesus everywhere- even death. Who couldn't believe he would ever deny or abandon his Lord, who took up a sword & cut a man's ear off, because he thought he was defending his friend. He was raw & passionate & many times Jesus had to bring him correction. No doubt most us would look at a man like that & scowl at his rough-around-the-edges attitude, but not Jesus. Instead, Jesus saw how passionately Peter wanted to be part of the Haunting, Barbarian way of life & it was Peter he chose as the foundation of his church.
"And I tell you that you are Peter, & on this rock I will build my church, & the gates of Hades will not overcome it." Matthew 16:18
It's our choice whether we will choose to risk it all for the sake of the better & bigger story or stay safe in our cozy little hobbit holes. I for one will be following in Bilbo, Peter's & those medieval re-enactors steps, you'll probably see me running down that Road shouting "I'm going on an adventure."
Wanna join me?