I just returned from The Wild Goose Festival at Shakori Hills, NC. It was an amazing experience. I am still pondering and processing all that I saw and heard. It was a fusion of justice and Jesus! It was a place where anyone and everyone was invited to walk together in faith. The website for the festival states that “the Wild Goose is a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit. We are followers of Jesus creating a festival of justice, spirituality, music and the arts. The festival is rooted in the Christian tradition and therefore open to all regardless of belief, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, denomination or religious affiliation.” (http://www.wildgoosefestival.org/intro). That says a lot and it was all that + a bag of chips. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I came home with renewed faith in the power of a community of believers. I came home with a new sense of the spread of progressive Christianity – not just in typical Progressive circles, but also into Evangelical circles as well as into numerous denominations and faith traditions. I came home with a sense that our collective stories of faith are more similar than different. I came home with a belief that together we can envision a world where we can overcome the differences in our theology. I also came home with chigger bites and a sore back from sleeping in a tent, but those inconveniences were far outweighed by the blessings of being there at the first ever Wild Goose.
I heard music by Michelle Shocked, Over the Rhine, Beth Nielson Chapman, and many others. One of the highlights was talking with Vincent Harding who worked with MLK in the Freedom Movement (he believes the name Civil Rights Movement limits it too much). I heard Jay Bakker talking about grace, Jim Wallis talk about the mess in Washington, Brian McLaren talk about the future and the church, Tony Jones talk about sexuality, and so many others. I was part of a panel on Church Planting with Nadia Bolz-Webber and Cheri Holdridge. It was held in a geodesic dome in the woods. It was a blessing to be there, but there were too many people to hear and too little time.
Little kids were running around playing Duck, Duck, Goose with painted faces. Families were camping out and cooking on camp stoves. Conversations about faith and life were taking place all around the festival. There were 20-somethings covered in tattoos and 60+ folks in their Dockers and bow ties sitting on the ground and on camp chairs enjoying the festivities together. Folks painted each other with water and mud and brought yarn to unite in a beautiful prayer tree. The Goose – the Holy Spirit – was everywhere. The Spirit was in the trees, the camp tents, the contributors and participants, the face painted little kids, the breeze blowing through the fields, and the s’mores offered by tent neighbors.
I am glad I went the Goose. I was blessed by the Goose. And I will return to the Goose. In the meanwhile – I will fly with the Goose in all I do. The Goose is with me always. And also with you!!