A couple years ago a few friends and I went to the annual Abbey Medieval Festival to spend a day in the past.
Not only did I learn and experience new things from everyday life of the Medieval past, but I learned about the sub-culture of the festival re-enactors too and it woke something "Tookish" inside of me.
“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 Tolkien
At 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 and after a cute little exchange he bounded away again with his fresh and tasty treasure.
The girl slicing the bread looked at us with a sparkle in her eye, said "That's my dad." and 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.
A New Way of Life
After this, I spent about an hour talking with two other 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 and her father and the two knights' 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 and 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 and 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 and 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 and 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.
A New Type of Adventure
How can we encapsulate a feeling and way of life in one word?
All I know is this "It", this "stirring" is raw and gritty. It's sun burnt faces with dirt etched into every wrinkle and pore, it's deep laugh lines and fierce eyes, it's knowing who and Who's you are, it's living boldly and passionately even in the midst of the scariest, deadliest storm. It's the great, big and wild adventure God calls each of us to live.
So often we want our lives to be plastic clean, or just safe and 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 and cut a man's ear off, because he thought he was defending his friend. He was raw and passionate and many times Jesus had to bring him correction.
No doubt most us would look at a man like that and 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 and 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 chapter 16, verse 18
It's our choice whether we will choose to risk it all for the sake of the better and bigger story or stay safe in our cosy little hobbit holes.
I, for one, will be following in Bilbo, Peter's and those medieval re-enactors steps, you'll probably see me running down that Road shouting "I'm going on an adventure."
Wanna join me?
Previously published here.
Charis Joy Jackson is working as a full-time missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) a non-profit organization in Queensland. During the day she makes movies and in her spare time is writing a novel. www.charisjoyjackson.com
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