Hiking, or The Reason to Abuse a Left Knee

A few years ago, my wife decided to give me a birthday present in the form of abandonment in the wilderness. To be clear, this was what I wanted. My version of a vacation is fairly Spartan. Give me a sleeping bag, a hammock, a tarp, and some basic necessities, and leave me to wander. This is distinctly different from my mother’s version of camping, which involves things with agitators—a washing machine, a hot tub, and cable television, for example.

My sweet wife dropped me off at Cosby Campground, where Cosby Creek churns down a mountain gully in fresh cascades of whitewater. The trail from there to Low Gap averages a thirteen percent grade. I was newly thirty-two years old. Surely sixty additional pounds up a mountain posed no problem.

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Fund The Mosleys’ New Record!

Once in a while, you run across people doing good work, and you ask yourself: Why isn’t everybody excited about this? Much of that good work requires a little digging to unearth, so we wanted to do the labor for you and make sure you got a chance to participate in something wonderful.

Stephen and Rachel Mosley have been crafting tunes as a folk duo for about three years, starting at their house in Serenbe, Georgia, and ending up in a Floridian plantation mansion that’s spitting distance from the Gulf of Mexico. Some of you might recall Rachel’s splendid, honest writing about the good perils of family. This year saw the Mosleys not only deciding to produce new music, but to produce a full-length record with Phil Madeira and Jimmy Abegg.

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The Rumor of Good News

The Potato Eaters – 1885, Vincent van Gogh

What is it about Vincent Van Gogh that continues to inspire artists? Painters mimic techniques he perfected. Scores of filmmakers, songwriters, and poets have created their own works of art with Van Gogh as their subject. What is it about this artist that so inspires other artists? A definitive answer to that question may not be possible, but as a songwriter who has himself written a song about Van Gogh, I can at least speak to what inspires me.

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Looking You in the Eye

We’re still excited at the success of Echo Hill, our latest venture, and we thought we’d take the time to look into what we’re doing here at Foundling House in the first place, and why we would put together a dinner and concert in which people look each other in the eye, taste delectable food, and drink in well-crafted, truth-bearing art. Also, here’s a great chance for those of you who missed our evening to get a glimpse of what transpired:

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A Big Day of Small Things

Last Friday night, we held our first Foundling House brick-and-mortar event—a dinner and concert called Echo Hill, featuring the talents of Eric Peters, Janna Barber, Palmer Gregg, Ben Bannister, Bill Wolf, and Lorraine Furtner, plus an excellent feast by Sullivan’s.

This project had been more than six months in the making. The idea always seemed to be floating around in the back of my mind that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to virtual reception of art, to interaction by proxy. That kind of distance relationship, at least where art is concerned, suffers from a fan-based mentality. Good poems, stories, and songs drift into the territory of hagiography—that glowing writing full of miracles and merit that surrounds the saints of old. If we add the personal context of presence, our work takes on different and perhaps more holistic meaning*. I had mentioned the possibility of an event to our writers’ group multiple times, trying to gauge interest and, on a more subliminal level, hoping that if I talked about it enough, I would figure out how to pull it off.

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God in the Process

St. Augustine once wrote that he carried a “question” with him at all times: “My question was the attention I gave to the world, and its reply was its beauty.”

Beauty—no matter our taste—demands our attention.

This past summer I began looking again at my new surroundings: the city of Nashville. In hopes of recording some beautiful “answers” with my paintbrush, I’d get up early and catch the morning light as it woke up the world. One such morning I sat down on a curb across the street from a hilariously pink Mexican grocery, and began to paint. That hot pink screamed for my attention!

Following my habit I started working quickly to capture the essence of the scene, when steadily—one by one—construction workers began setting up on the street not five feet in front of me. Workers. Cones. A truck. Another truck. Boom! Construction blocked!

“I can’t go anywhere in this town without running into construction,” I huffed, packing up my supplies. That’s when the lightning bolt struck:

Construction is everywhere.

From roads to skyscrapers and traffic cones to tower cranes, the multicolored landscape of construction had one thing in common: my attention.

But could it be beautiful?

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