Experiencing the “Wild Goose Festival” July 13-16, 2017 |Hot Springs, North Carolina

After my family returned from our time in Mexico, we hopped in the car for the nine-hour drive down to North Carolina to experience the “Wild Goose Festival” located in a small mountain town of Hot Springs.

If you haven’t experienced the festival, you should.

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What is the Wild Goose?  Simply put – the Wild Goose is a Celtic image for the Holy Spirit.  The metaphor of a wild goose is one which evokes the image of an active, beautiful and utterly unpredictable pattern of flight.   The wild goose is about adventure and surprise with a new variable direction.  The flight of the goose is one that is taking in a community.  Geese share a common direction, and they honk together in a manner that supports the other geese.

The festival is committed to being an inclusive community rooted in the Christian tradition of radical hospitality (welcoming all people – of faith, or no faith), non-violence, always evolving, and relationships between people matter.   Conversations are bold, and questions are most important.

The Wild Goose festival is perhaps best described as a gathering for the arts, music, spirituality, community, social justice and for those who are seeking a common humanity by breaking down stereotypes and the social imagination of North America culture.

 

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Participating in the conversation, “The Spiritual Parenting Revolution” with Lynyetta Willis

 

I attended a few workshops during my time at the Goose, although there are over 200 such workshops that attendees can pick from what is of interest to them.  On Saturday morning I attended a workshop entitled, “Conservatives are from Mars and Progressives are from Venus:  Finding Our Way in Another World.” The speaker, Jennifer Ould, invited us to think about what it might look like to invite and welcome those who are against us, and to include those who would like to exclude us.

If we want any sort of meaningful change in the world, we have to practice new ways of engaging each other and recognize in our own selves our anxieties and defenses that diffuse our ability to remain open to dialogue and to meet our fears with loving nonviolence.

I enjoyed participating in “Jams and Juice” with my family.  “Jams and Juice” is like karaoke for kids, or Beer and Hymns and hymns (minus the beer).

 

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My daughter, Linnea, along with others singing at “Jams and Juice.”

 

Another great session was one on personal relationships entitled, “The Value of Burning Bridges” hosted by the speaker, Melissa Greene.  Melissa spoke about the importance of burning bridges when, at times, it is necessary to move on from a relationship that is no longer healthy and life giving to allow a stronger, sturdier bridge to be built in place of the unhealthy ones.

 

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Melissa Greene discussing the value of burning bridges

 

I really enjoyed Beer and Hymns held each night at eleven.  It’s a beautiful thing when people sing together.  For many, this is a spiritual practice.  “Beer and Hymns” is the event that is just what the name indicates.  Local musicians including guitar, mandolin, according, banjos, djembe drums, washboards, play ‘spirit’ lead hymns that are played faster and louder than normal.

 

Nuestros eventos en San Miguel de Allende y el estado de Guanajuato

We continue to have a great deal of fun in  the state of Guanajuato (click on the link) visiting museums, cultural sites, learning Spanish and meeting new friends.

The state is considered the epicenter of the Mexican Independence of 1810 and especially around San Miguel de Allende, Irapuato, Guanajuato City, and Dolores Hildago.

We enjoyed watching the La Fiesta de Los Locos in honor of San Antonio de Paduca.   The literal translation is the “party of the crazies.”  The festival takes place in San Miguel de Allende every year in the middle of June.  The exact origins of this festival are lost in the mists of time, but locals recall a time when the local farmers and gardeners would venerate the saint for a good growing season and harvest. Their celebrations came to include creative dances and dress, and the festival has only grown since then.

 

We traveled to Ciudad Guanajuato with our friends from Iowa to visit the beautiful mountain town.  This colonial town is absolutely gorgeous.   It’s tunnels carved through the mountains are fascinating and the beauty of the city amazed us.

One stop in Guanajuato was at the Mummy Museum.  More information about the Mummies of Guanajuato is here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mummies_of_Guanajuato

 

We visited the Christo Rey monument about 20 kilometers outside Ciudad Guanajuato.  The monument is place in what is believed to be the geographic center of Mexico.

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The Mexican state of Guanajuato is know for growing frescas (strawberries).  The city of Irapuato is the center of production for the state.   We enjoyed our visit with friends to the strawberry fields where we picked our own berries.   Locals are quick to mention the berries are the sweetest in the world.  The soil creates the perfect growing conditions for the sweetest berries.   Local law prohibits using any pesticides and the berries are totally organic.  They are not like the strawberries in the United States.  They are smaller and way tastier!

 

“What is War?” An Article for the ‘Voice of Muscatine’ Newspaper

The other day, my preschool-aged child asked me, “What is war?”  I fumbled through an answer that was accurate yet sterilized to match her young age.  It is indeed sad that a preschooler may be asking such a question.  Yet anthropologists tell us that humans have been dealing with violence since the beginning of civilization.  Though just because we may have, deep down, urges to be aggressive and even violent, it need not be the only impulse that shapes our behavior.

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Just as innate as aggression, is our drive to be kind to one another, to lift others up, and to express love.  This same preschooler, who fights with her sibling and has already been exposed to the concept of war, also knows how to share her toys, show comfort and affection.  Just the other day, she, unprompted brought me a tray of canned fruit and granola bars after I told her I wasn’t feeling well.  The instinct both to lash out and to love is a part of the fiber of every human being.

So, it is our responsibility, as leaders, as parents, as mentors, as fellow humankind, to be aware of our inner drives.

During our interactions with others, through words and action, we can choose who it is we are going to be – the one who spreads love or the one who shows contempt.

We have the ability to respond (response-ability) to others with kindness, with goodness of heart, and with actions of love.  And maybe, just maybe, the preschoolers of future generations will not even have the words “war” or “violence” in their vocabularies.

“Garden of Eatin’ ” is Producing a Harvest

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Two of my daughters watering the flowers at Zion Lutheran’s               “Garden of Eatin’
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We have beets!!!! 

In the summer of 2015, I applied for a domestic hunger grant through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to start a community garden to provide our neighbors and local food pantry with access to fresh locally-sourced produce.

Our congregation, Zion Lutheran Church, received $1,000 from the grant application and subsequent work began through our Social Ministry committee.

On Earth Day weekend, in April 2016 , we dedicated the “Garden of Eatin’ ” to the Glory of God as an act of worship and the garden was off and running!

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Garden of Eatin’ ” dedication on Earth Day weekend in April 2016.

Towards the end of June 2016, the garden has produced about 80 pounds of fresh vegetables that have been given to the Muscatine Community Food Pantry and a few produce has gone to our immediate neighbors.

Vegetables include:  broccoli, carrots, beets, romaine lettuce, green lettuce, two types of onions, tomatoes, two varieties of kale, green peppers, beets, and red cabbage.

The Garden of Eatin’ Ministry has really taken on a life of it’s own (no pun intended) and  gotten lots of inquires from our neighbors and folks in the community.

This is the kind of project that required the work of the entire congregation (and even our neighbors have graciously allowed us to use some of their water).   Some one from the congregation came up with the name for the garden, a member who happens to be a farmer donated soil, another designed the garden boxes, a couple of folks planted the crops, another the sign, and then each week, one family unit signs-up to steward the garden for a week.

The week of June 26-July 2nd is my family’s week to serve.  We had a great time working together in the garden and getting our hand’s dirty serving up a wonderful harvest!