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.
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.
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).
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.
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.