I’m not even sure where to begin in my description of Wild Goose. It was too much to just Facebook or Tweet, although I attempted to tweet some (and Instagram) with the limited wifi. Wild Goose is a festival that happens annually (I think this was the 3rd), and I thought that it was probably a bunch of dirty hippies go to the woods and talk about Jesus and peace and stuff.
Turns out that’s a pretty good description.
Being a bit of a hippie myself, I was intrigued by a festival about music, justice, arts, and spirituality. I signed up based on past speakers, and when the headliners started to appear in my news feed, I knew I was supposed to go to this thing.
Indigo Girls have been part of my life since high school, and have helped shape my theology, awareness of GLBTQ issues, and. very importantly, my singing voice. They were interviewed by another one of my favorites, Krista Tippett, and that’s when my head pretty much exploded in the best possible way. And they geeked out over getting to talk to each other and meet each other…pretty fantastic.
The “elders” of the weekend, interviewed a couple times by Krista, were the great Phyllis Tickle and civil rights veteran Dr. Vincent Harding. Beautiful, inspired conversations about God’s call, feminism (or the lack of it; Phyllis had a hilarious quote about how she couldn’t be a feminist and have seven children with the same man!), race in the current U.S. climate, and lots of singing together.
And Phillip Yancey. Just hanging out, in his white-haired campy-ness like the rest of us, talking about his life’s story which I had never heard, despite reading so many of his books.
That would have been enough, right? But there were more speakers, preachers, discuss-ers, makers of art, on every corner. Nadia Bolz-Weber was there, representing for the Lutherans. I went to an excellent workshop on practicing non-violence in our daily lives led by the group Pace e Bene. And I sat with many others interested in issues of what our theology has to do with what we eat each day, what we grow in our backyard, how we treat our farm animals. My daughter was inspired to activism by a display about justice for farmworkers, who struggle, literally, to make minimum wage picking tomatoes for Wendy’s and Publix.
We heard a Psalm setting unlike any I had ever heard.
The older I get, the more I think that the Spirit of God is INDEED like a Wild Goose, more than a silly old meek DOVE or something. One of the mornings we were there, we saw geese on the train tracks right above our tent (yes, it was LOUD, but I love a good train whistle at night!). They milled around, but they sure didn’t stay for long. They honked and flapped and were loud and crazy and then on to the next thing.
Our denomination, the ELCA, called a new presiding bishop of the whole church yesterday, and it is a person with whom I share my name, Elizabeth. You might notice that it is not a man person. People who were there described the Spirit as “catching them up,” as she spoke powerfully about love and justice for all God’s children. There was maybe a honking and flapping in the room more than a gentle dove feeling, from what I understand!
But it still led us to a place of peace, of steady grace from God, of leadership in the midst of a church (and a world) that’s divided on so many issues in so many places, yet called to be One, as Bishop Elizabeth Eaton so powerfully said yesterday.
If you can’t go to Wild Goose, if it’s not your thing, that’s okay. But maybe we can all keep thinking about the Spirit as those geese, honking on the railroad tracks, leading us on loudly and wildly to the next big adventure.