by Tricia Prinzi on August 9, 2010

The fact that all the people I know are better writers than me often keeps me from putting ideas to page. I have a tender little underbelly that was first scraped up by Professor Sweet, creative writing expert. But it’s been, like, 17 years, so maybe I should just move on. Here goes.

I was a part of this really interesting endeavor called Hutchmoot in Nashville. It was billed as a conference on writing, music, art, and God but I knew as soon as I walked in that it was more. Before I talk about how much more it was, I want to give a reference point for the lens through which I write.

I have been in a desert following a pillar of fire for about three years. I live in a neighborhood that scares most people like me, including me. There is ugliness. There is poverty and helplessness and crime and a lot of yelling. Of course, there is brokenness everywhere in everyone, because that is the way the world looks until Jesus makes all things new. But my house is planted in a bleaker landscape. The secrets that people keep, the lies and numbing and faking that I see at work, in the grocery store or at church are much less sophisticated in front of my house. Instead of the superego taming a pained person to put on a brave face, I see the id from my front porch. I see the hurting. It is exposed. It is explosive. And it elicits a sense of helplessness in me like I have never known.

I struggle with the concept of the “calling” of God to do things. But the burden on my heart to live in this place was unmistakable; this place that needs caring for in a very practical way, like cleaning up spoons that were used to cook up crack from front yards. The fancy term is neighborhood revitalization. The truth: I am struggling to find my own vital signs in this place. I came home to find my kitchen window smashed one time. A lockbox was taken that was assumed to have drugs and money in it. Instead, it contained ultrasound pictures of my daughter. I was sitting on the porch and heard gun shots ring out one street over. The shooter ran past me and looked into my eyes with a depth that even some of my friends do not. It has broken me to live here.

So in this broken state, feeling like I could not leave fast enough, I boarded a plane for Nashville. I prayed that God would bring me back to life. I asked for a way to understand the three years in the desert.

Walking into the church where the conference was held, I was absorbed like a droplet of water into the sea. But I was still me and they were still them and the sea was not chaos, but comfort. I was in a safe place. I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to be strong. I listened to people tell the old, old story and sing about the pain of us all and peace that is coming where He will wipe away every tear. I was given a moment of what will be eternity; a celebration of all that God has created. He has created creators with hearts to tell stories to give meaning to others too weak to imagine for themselves.

I am home. And while my time on this street has been short, I can clean up this neighborhood in what little time I have left. I can plant trees and I can teach people to garden and I can paint buildings. But closer to the heart of what it means to revitalize, I can tell stories. With words, I can shape a context for those roaming this bleak landscape. God comforted me with story. I will care as I have been cared for.

My prayers will always be with the storytellers who stay behind when we’ve moved on.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Hutchmoot Hub (A Collection Of All ‘moot-related Blogposts, Websites, Etc.) | S.D. Smith
August 12, 2010 at 6:01 am
Our Unfinished Stories
August 15, 2010 at 7:25 am

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 S.D. Smith August 9, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Whoever says you can’t write is insane. Beautifully said, Tricia. It was a moving event for me as well. I wish I had more time to chat it up with you and Travis.

Praying for you guys as you “lean into the lasting.”

Peace to you.


2 Kim August 10, 2010 at 9:47 am

Amen. I’m sorry we didn’t really meet each other this weekend at Hutchmoot … but I’m glad to “meet” you here. Thanks for sharing this refection.


3 Janna August 10, 2010 at 10:27 am

I agree with Sam on both counts: the writing and wanting to chat it up more with the Prinzis. Sorry our paths didn’t cross in all the busyness. We’ll have to remedy that next time. Thanks for posting, Tricia.


4 Ashley Elizabeth August 10, 2010 at 11:39 am

You’ve summed up my heart: the sea was safe there. Beautiful words- thank you.


5 Leanne August 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Tricia. You are a good writer. Professor Sweet was Professor Wrong. :)
I love your honesty. I appreciate your admission of the feeling of inability and disappointment and confusion about what “God’s calling” really means. It reminds me of Psalm 51. “You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart…the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you will not despise.” Who knows but that God’s calling was to help you along that road of trusting Him and being a bit battered and broken-hearted?

(I certainly don’t want to sound preachy or judging here. That’s not my intent at all. I just have experienced such an increase in my gratitude of His love when He’s brought me through some totally suck-y “poor in spirit” experiences.)


6 Allison August 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Beautiful! Thank you for writing this, for letting us know.


7 Amy @ My Friend Amy August 10, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you this weekend, but this was lovely and really describes how I felt at Hutchmoot as well. Thanks for writing.


8 Thomas McKenzie August 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I find a great deal of courage in your post, along with your sadness. I’m so glad that you were able to come to Hutchmoot, and I am thankful to the Lord that he used it to nourish you. Thank you for this wonderful post.


9 tricia August 10, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Thanks for the cyber hugs and encouragement. It is a pleasure to stumble along with all of you. I look forward to our continued fellowship. Later, taters.


10 Susan Mansfield August 14, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Sadly, I wasn’t at Hutchmoot, but as a fellow RR follower, I loved how you described the conference, “But I was still me and they were still them and the sea was not chaos, but comfort. I was in a safe place. I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to be strong.”. Beautiful.


11 kelli August 14, 2010 at 10:23 pm


I was up in the middle of night last night reading over the posts from Hutchmoot. I came across your post, read it and paused. The rawness that you shared…the pain, the struggle…was so beautiful. You have not let it consume you. Your hope spills out in the crevices of your words.

After reading this, I spent quite a bit of time just praying for you and the stories you will tell where you are. You will weave a world around your neighbors, and you will give them a name. Your strength in this resolve is glorious!

Thank you for this.


12 Rachel August 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm

The entire weekend was soul refreshment and talking with you was a treat. Maryanna and I both believe our dinner with you was a Divine meal and conversation. The sun (SON) led us to our seats. Thank you for not only your written but spoken words.


13 Tony Heringer August 22, 2010 at 3:46 pm

“I was in a safe place. ” – I was choking back tears at that point, to echo the comments above, Sweet just missed it or the good professor hit a sweet spot and spurred you on. Your lovely prose reminds me of the importance of being gracious no matter the location — online or in person. It was so nice to meet you and Travis. Thanks for sharing your story. It inspires me to pour into my home all the more. I’ve prayed for you all and will continue to do so as the Lord leads.


14 Heather Ivester August 23, 2010 at 11:30 am


Thanks for sharing your Hutchmoot experience here. It seems like many of us attendees were seeking meaning to our own stories, which may someday be transformed into lasting art. I know God will use your three years in the “wilderness” to bring hope to others. Have you ever read any books by Lisa Samson? She and her husband also moved to the inner city (in Louisville). She’s a novelist, and many of her “gritty” characters come from her real-life experiences.


15 Curt McLey August 24, 2010 at 2:57 am

Thanks, Tricia. Your piece resonated with me too. I also agree with the sentiment of those that have formed a sort of mini Hutchmoot around the Prinzi blog today. My son–a trusting soul–had the windows in his car broken over the weekend, and his stereo unit stolen. I’ve been struggling with how to think about this whole thing. It’s not as easy as it might seem from the outside looking in.


16 Anne August 26, 2010 at 8:01 am

Thank you for this tender story of your life at home and how it brought you to Hutchmoot. The line “It has broken me to live here.” pierces my heart, and causes me to whisper Amen. I believe that is the very place God calls us all to be whether we inhabit a home in the inner city, or in the bland often lifeless suburbs.
I grew up in the city where you live, and I am thankful that folks like you and Travis, and my brother and his family have listened to the urging of God to be agents of redemption and story in areas that so desperately need it.


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