FIRST GOOSE; FIRST TAT
Why I have a Wild Goose Tattoo
By Richard Kennel
I didn’t fit in anywhere. My progressive, independent science-loving free thinking spirit had become spiritually flat, drained, and lifeless. The churches and groups with whom I had been involved were too conservative; too religious; too exclusive. So I went online trying to find if there was some church or group where I could feel I belonged, that didn’t claim to know the truth, and wasn’t exclusionary.
Somehow in my searching I came across the Wild Goose website. I could not believe it. I thought, “Holy shit! You mean there are real people out there like this?”
So I drove to the 2014 Wild Goose. As soon as I hit the grounds, I knew I was in the right place. The people, the music, the speakers, Beer and Hymns—all confirmed that this is what I had been missing. This was what I’d been looking for, but had been unable to define.
My defining Goose Moment that year came when I went to Reba Riley’s presentation: “Post-traumatic Church Syndrome.” Reba used a mirrored “disco ball” as a metaphor for people’s’ understanding of God. I heard her say, “Each of us sees a small bit of the reflected light, but no one of us grasps the entire scope of God’s essence.” For some reason, that hit me like a hurricane! It felt as if the heavy yoke of years of searching, struggling, and oppression were lifted. I was emotionally overwhelmed. Then Reba said, “Now turn to someone next to you and talk about what this means for you.” I turned to the woman next to me and choked out: “I think you had better go first.” She looked me straight in the eye and said, “No—I think YOU need to go first.” At that I broke into tears and sobbed uncontrollably. The sense of being home at last was too overwhelming. I was unable to utter another word, but God bless her—that woman just sat with me and was present for me. I dearly wish I’d gotten her name.
When I came home after that experience, I knew I was a different person, and I could not return to the church I had been attending with my wife. At the time, she was in Florida visiting a friend, so I decided to start church shopping. To this day I don’t remember how or why I chose the church I did, but that first choice was it. When I was sitting in the pew in that first service and heard the (female) pastor begin her prayer with: “Mother, Father God…” I knew I was where I belonged. I’ve been attending ever since.
I felt I had to commemorate this life-changing experience somehow. In all my 61 years of existence, I never once had any desire whatsoever to get a tattoo. Now, however, I knew that was exactly what I needed. I now have the Wild Goose logo from that year on my forearm as a permanent reminder of my own personal burning-bush experience.
Do you have a Goose tattoo? Tell us about it!