I wonder what the Goose will give me this year.
When I pull into Hot Springs, it will be my sixth consecutive Wild Goose. Each year I attend on behalf of Chalice Press, which has sponsored Wild Goose since 2012. I’m there to work: Finding new authors, promoting our new titles, creating connections, scouting the future of progressive Christianity, that kind of stuff. There are the constants: inspirational worship, imaginative presenters, unique participants, and of course pop-up thunderstorms followed by breathtaking sunsets.
But Wild Goose has made a deep personal impact on me – it’s left a mark. Whether it’s the setting, the mindset, the culture, or in my case merely coincidental timing, each Wild Goose has been a different experience for me. And it’s not always about the programming.
In 2013, I brought my son with me. We celebrated his 14th birthday with the Indigo Girls, the Lost Dogs, fireworks, mud up to our ankles, and the spellbinding Rev. William J. Barber II. My son still talks about his Wild Goose experience – as he continues exploring a call to ministry while heading off to college in August. Wild Goose gave me a son who listens for God.
In 2014, I came solo to Wild Goose catching my breath, my marriage having just avoided breaking up (for the moment), my heart mending, my mind needing a change of scenery and a change of pace. Wild Goose gave me hope.
In 2015, I came solo and broken. The divorce I’d worked so hard to avoid finalized while I was at the Goose. I needed time to sit by the river to reflect, to mourn, to let go, to hold on, and to begin the process of figuring out who the new me was going to be. I found a few rocks, figuratively labeled them with my pain and guilt, and threw them away into the river, hoping to be relieved of those negative emotions and start anew. Wild Goose gave me a new start.
In 2016, I came with friends, feeling better about my situation yet heartbroken that one of those friends had a cataclysmically awful month, far worse than where I had been the year before. Our circle of friends hoped and prayed to provide support or relief or hope or whatever was needed, at that moment and in the tough times to come. Wild Goose gave me compassion.
In 2017, I came with my new girlfriend, on top of the world. Sharing that experience with a Goose newcomer – but, more importantly, with a woman/pastor who has helped me see the world and my ministerial work in new, God-embraced ways – has given Wild Goose a new depth I hadn’t seen before. Wild Goose gave me new vision.
In 2018… well, I don’t know about that yet. I know who’s on the program and what work I will have to do while I’m in Hot Springs. But as I walk beneath the verdant canopy and watch the French Broad River flow by and wring out my rain-drenched clothes (because let’s be honest: it’s gonna rain), I know the Goose works in mysterious ways, and I can’t predict what that experience will be like. I just have to go with the flow.
May you find yourself going with the flow at the Goose, at home, sitting in traffic – wherever you need to think differently, to rest, to find inspiration and hope.
We’re so thankful to have Chalice Press as a longtime partner of the Wild Goose Festival. Learn more about their work at ChalicePress.com.