It’s been nearly a month but the Wild Goose Festival is anything but over. Our flock is no longer gathered on the banks of the French Broad River. But, we’re still thinking, learning, enacting our faith and connecting across the country.
Which songs are still stuck in your head?
What art has poured from your fingers?
Are there any new ideas that just won’t dislodge itself from your mind?
The Wild Goose is more than a festival. It’s a movement.
So, let’s start sharing what we’ve learned.
Below are links to blog posts by fellow goosers. Check them out. Share them with your friends. Comment. Let’s keep the community growing.
In the mean time, we plan to create a second round-up in two weeks, so be sure to send your blog posts, art, and reflections inspired by Wild Goose to email@example.com or comment with a link below.
“He sat in the front seat of the rickety golf cart. “This your first time to the Goose?”
I swear, his white beard was past the nipple line.
“Yes,” we tittered. My knuckles were tensing around the seat.
“Well spread your wings and let the Holy Spirit make you fly!” He lifted an arm out of the cart for emphasis. I worried the cart would tip, that we’d splatter on the trodden dirt of the campground.”
“Whether it was the sounds of impromptu jam sessions singing praise for the day’s blessings, the sights of young people freely expressing their joy with dance, the pop of the embers exploding into the night air as we journeyed into a Celtic ancestor meditation, or inhaling the sweet exuberance of a burgeoning relationship of a dear friend, each moment was manna for the soul.”
“On Friday afternoon, just as the sun was really starting to heat things up I found myself sitting on a large rock in the middle of the French Broad river surrounded by cairns erected by other festival goers as a form of centering meditation.”
Despair has become too automatic a reaction lately, facing environmental apathy and the egregious civil rights attacks that won’t stop coming. But standing side by side with hundreds of kind, intelligent justice-seekers has renewed my faith in humanity.
“And so, last week, as I stood in front of the main stage at the Wild Goose Festival listening toGungor – a group whose music has been impacting me for years – I was struck dumb when I heard them explain their new song, Light.”
“But, when Betsy and I walked hand-in-hand through the Wild Goose campground, all I felt was radiating, unqualified, unapologetic joy. In the spirit-filled bubble that is The Goose, we felt loved, safe and free to live into our burgeoning love. When we ventured beyond the delicate membrane of The Goose, wandering through the little town of Hot Springs, we became acutely aware of how others might regard our hand-holding.”
ICYMI, BREE NEWSOME WAS THERE….
(Before you do anything else, be sure to watch her panel discussion here.)
“Another Wild Goose speaker of note was the Rev. Traci Blackmon, pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO. Blackmon, a prominent activist and organizer, was appointed to the Ferguson Commission after her early response to the racial tensions that followed the killing of Michael Brown Jr. She was at the festival to preach at Sunday’s closing ceremony and participate in a panel called “Revolutionary Love & Militant Nonviolence.”
After Newsome’s speech, reporters, performers and activists gathered under a small tent behind the stage for a brief press conference and photo op. All fell silent as Blackmon stepped up and embraced Newsome—the two activists meeting for the first time. Blackmon began to cry as she held onto Newsome. “Thank you,” she whispered.“Thank you for snatching down that flag. Thank you.”
Newsome replied, “Y’all lit my fire in Ferguson, and no one’s going to stop until we’re all free.”
Maybe I’m an anti-activist. (My book is subtitled, “Some Thoughts on NOT Changing the World.”) We journalists are trained to stand above the fray, to provide some sort of God’s-eye view. But something Newsome’s human step-stool said is sticking in my craw. “As a white Southerner I’m taught to be silent in the face of racism,” said Tyson, who grew up as a Presbyterian.
What is respectable and what is right are two very different things. Your silence is doing violence. As white people, we’re the ones who perpetuate white supremacy. … Even if you lose friends from telling the truth, you’re being held and cherished by God all the time.
Tyson pointed out that the proper, Southern gentleman was also the slaveowner. I wonder if there’s an analogy with us journalist types: What a privilege, what a luxury, to not have to get involved, to not have to feel, if we don’t choose to.
This begs the question: how do entire situations get made right? How do we pursue wholeness of individuals or communities? Well, I’ll tell you how we don’t get there: we don’t get there by refusing to confront injustice and oppression, or by telling the oppressed to stay calm (the later being something I’ve been guilty of previously, and hereby most contritely repent). However shalom is achieved, the first step is ending oppression, and that means we must name it and confront it– aka, we “agitate, agitate, agitate” as the abolitionists used to say.
“Do y’all do blessings and shit?”
I asked it shyly, unsure of the proper etiquette (even though the sign in front of the white tent advertised all manner of blessings available). I hoped the casual and shit would mask how badly I wanted to be blessed, how I’d felt my heart pull me toward this corner of the campground over and over all weekend.
I said it with a smile, but what my heart whispered fiercely was “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”
One comment that was driven home by this panel was that churches should be involved in the work of economic development in their particular places. Economic development, for those who might not be familiar with the term, is “the sustained, concerted actions of policy makers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area.” (Wikipedia) This idea that churches should be doing this kind of work resonated with me, as Englewood Christian Church, my church on the urban Near Eastside of Indianapolis, has been engaged in economic development for over a decade. We didn’t set out to do economic development, but stumbled into it as a result of seeking to be faithful in our neighborhood and to bear witness to the healing and flourishing that God intends for all places.
We finally made it to Wild Goose. After the last four years saying “I really wish we could go,” which became “let’s give it a try,” which became “we’ll go next year.” It finally became “we’re going!”
Peacekeeping is a job for the loud.
For those who can command a room.
For those who can confidently stride
to the front of a room and declare
“Can’t we all just get along?”
Power prays loudly for unity.
But some are peacemakers.
Who call forth from the deep something that had not been before.
Peacemakers are bold. They are confident. But not always loud.
Because even strong voices can sound small from the back of the room.
From the margins.