The stones in the city wall were pulled from the river bed.
~ Matthew Perryman Jones, Stones from the Riverbed
For nearly seven years Foundling House sought to be a home for homeless writers, for those new and emerging voices who didn’t quite fit in at other websites, yet who we believed still deserved to be heard. Some five hundred posts later, we’ve built a collective community that is mutually beneficial to both writers and readers, and we’re so proud of where we’ve arrived today.
In the beginning our vision was somewhat narrow, back when we thought we could keep the site going with content exclusively birthed in our local community. But as the months and years progressed we began to invite other voices to contribute, and we found we had more in common with the world outside of Knoxville, Tennessee than we first thought. We found similar hearts and minds in other cities, states, and even countries, and we celebrated the growth of our little experiment by paying for domain names, bringing on more editors, and increasing our social media presence. Perhaps we could finally accomplish one of our early dreams, and find a way to pay our writers for their work!
And then 2020 happened.
Is still happening, and those of us who’ve survived thus far are finding ourselves emerging from this fallout changed. After months of being denied in-person community and true embodied living, we find we can no longer spend hours and hours online. Or perhaps we still can, but we just don’t want to. We’re ready for change. We’re searching for the meaning in all this tragedy, and we know we won’t find it in the digital realm.
A couple of months ago we had an editorial meeting and were relieved to find that we were all hearing the benediction song beginning to play for Foundling House, so we decided to call it quits, at least online. For the last several weeks we’ve bandied about many ideas transforming our site into a print publication, but thus far we’ve not found the administrative and financial means necessary to accomplish this goal.
So, it’s with all these factors in mind, that we’ve decided to call it quits at the end of August. The website will still be accessible through the end of the year since that subscription is already paid for, but we will not be posting any new content come September.
It’s somewhat difficult to declare the end of this Foundling House era, but the relief that each of us editors feels in regard to not having to continually shout into the noisy room of the internet is immense. We all have families and multiple creative endeavors awaiting our renewed focus and attention, and we long to be able to shed this layer of digital skin in an attempt to become more whole.
For the next three weeks you’ll hear from the editors as we celebrate and honor the work we’ve done here, and we invite you to revisit and share your favorite posts wherever you would like. We’re all so grateful for the time and space you’ve helped us inhabit here, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our fellow artists, writers, and readers. Thank you for being part of our journey, and for giving us the courage and blessing we need to take this next step. Please feel free to reach out and email any of us if you have questions about your work or the site from here on out.
As I close out my final post here at Foundling House, I’m reminded of the story of the Israelites, found in the beginning of the book of Joshua. Moses has just died, and they’re getting ready to make their initial entrance into the land God has promised them, but the Jordan river is flooded and swollen. God tells Joshua to have the priests enter the river first, holding the ark of the covenant, and as they do, the waters of the river recede and once again, God’s people are led across a completely dry riverbed.
It’s a miracle that calls to mind their release of captivity from Egypt forty years earlier, but this time no one is on their heels terrorizing them, and Joshua asks for men from each of the twelve tribes to take the time to gather large stones and carry them over into the promised land. Once everyone is safe and the water has returned to the river, God instructs the leaders of this new nation to erect a monument from these stones, “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” (Joshua 4: 24)
I'm not trying to suggest that my time at Foundling House is comparable to wandering around in a desert for four decades. Rather, I'm trying to say that, for me anyhow, the last eighteen months have been somewhat like enduring safe passage across a flooded river. It's been terrifying, miraculous, and incredibly slow, and now I need time to think about how to honor this journey and what I might do to help cement the lessons I've learned along the way.
Because I have no desire to return to the life I knew before crossing over, and I want to remember the mightiness of God and his care for me during this time. And I'd really like to raise the kinds of memorials that others can see and touch and examine for themselves. The kind that testify to God's goodness for generations to come. Who knows what kind of city awaits me and my family in the days and months ahead? Things may get even worse before the end, but today is a day for remembrance. May we all take the time that it demands.