The last three weeks I have been camping in one form or another- mostly in our trusty orange tent. I arrived home early this morning grateful for my bed, my shower, and my pillow. This last week has been spent at Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina. Having gone and raved about it for the last three years, people often ask me, “what is Wild Goose?” Technically it is a progressive Christian festival of music, justice, art and spirituality which takes its name from one of many symbols of the Holy Spirit. For me, Wild Goose is not a thing, rather it is the experiences of the Spirit in flight- soaring, flying, awkwardly flapping, and sometimes landing in the midst of this fluid community of which I am a part. No year is ever the same. The gifts of the goose are unpredictable.
Peace – My first morning back I awoke with a playlist of hymns, Amy Grant, and spirituals shuffling in my head, replacing the melody of the French Broad river that sung me to sleep in North Carolina. I declared this year that the French Broad is my favorite river of all that I know. The way it glows pink in the fading evening light, and glitters in the noonday sun. The sound of water over rock. The sandy places to dip my feet. Every time I come to the river my soul exhales. Singing the familiar hymns of my childhood – my grandparents favorites, my favorites, and the dusty forgotten ones in loud harmony with a group of hundreds of people reconnected me with my past and offered another opportunity to exhale from the deepest places in my soul.
Justice and Joy – This year my teenage daughter and niece came with me, bringing the gift of joy. I watched their deep friendship grow. I watched their faces as they tried new things – drumming, different styles of preaching, weaving circles, and silent disco. I watched as they discovered camping as a means of slowing down and finding Sabbath. Together we heard the call to justice for immigrants, children, the poor, LGBTQ persons, people of color, and others who the system marginalizes. I wonder what it would be like for more youth and parents I am in ministry with to hear the words of Rev. Otis Moss III, Rev. Jacqui Lawson and Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor. Though I did spend more time camp cooking this year to make sure they were fueled, it was a small price to watch their great joy and experience anew the wonder of the Wild Goose community.
Friendship and Art – Wild Goose is a time of connecting with a fairly diverse group of friends old and new. Last year I met Nicole Farley when she pitched her tent near mine. This past year we worked on several art projects together at church, have gone on art walks and gotten to know one another as friends. We spent 20+ hours in the car traveling to the festival together and never ran out of things to say. She was the live artist at the Greater Things tent. I told a story at the story slam. In the workshops and all around the camp people leave their artistic marks. I am grateful for the space to create with friends and colleagues.
Teaching – The last few weeks I have felt called to consider how faith formation creates justice seekers. Though I have just a tiny seed of an idea, I feel it taking root inside of me. Most of all, the Spirit has reminded me how much I enjoy teaching. As I take a break from seminary classes, I have the time to explore new teaching opportunities. My next online teaching gig is a webinar with Practical Resources for Churches: Youth Ministry 101- August 9.
Wild Goose advertises with four words: Spirit – Justice – Art – Music. It is all this and whatever the Holy Spirit carries in on her wings.
Sounds like such a rejuvenation! How special that M went with you!
Thanks for sharing your reflection!