The Common Good

Wild Goose West: Wild Spirit, Wonderful New Friends

Michael Gungor performs at Wild Goose West. Photo by Bill Dahl for Wild Goose.
Michael Gungor performs at Wild Goose West. Photo by Bill Dahl for Wild Goose.

Hello fellow Sojourners!

This is a brief missive for your enjoyment. I just returned from the Wild Goose Festival in Corvallis, Ore.

Yes, Oregon and not North Carolina. You see, in a fit of wisdom, the good people of Wild Goose found a west coast location. I hope it worked well for them because I'm sold on the place.

I wish you could have been there. It was amazing. To tantalize you into attending next year, here (in no particular order) are Nine Good Reasons to Attend The Wild Goose Festival.

1. There are no bugs.

None. Well, some flies, but this is Oregon and not North Carolina and though the nights are chilly and the mornings moreso (I awoke the last morning to see my breath in the air), the sun arose and everything warmed up to make for some of the most beautiful weather you'll ever experience.

2. All the notables are there.

Rachel, Richard (and Richard), Brian, Nadia, Gareth, Bruce, Christian, Amy, Yvette, Hilary, Greg, Steve...So many people to meet and to know.

Why did I list them by first name? Well, because that's The Goose.

Brian McLaren is just Brian. In fact, Brian Ammons (Lord, but I love that man) and Brian McLaren were both there and it got confusing because they were both "Brian" and no one wanted to use their last names. Let's not talk about how many times I had to take credit for Tripp Fuller's Homebrewed Christianity (and I did take full credit for it).

Plan on using your first name. Leave the titles at home.

3. Then there are all the other notables — you know, the people you will meet there on your own.

Kevin, Holly, TJ, Bruce, Sarah, Naomi, Lacey, Nate, Laura, Troy, and the guy who ran the beer truck who also arose early in the morning to make coffee. God bless him and his 6 a.m. coffee habit.

I met children and their parents. I met people pastoring churches and some practicing the more free-range versions of Christianity out there. I met people who would call themselves "evangelical" and others who wouldn't quite know what to do with the word if they had to use it in a sentence. I met so many brilliant and thoughtful people.

Jesus was just walking all over the place. Yes, I made new friends.

4. You will be uplifted.

The music, the conversations, the opportunities for prayer and healing...

The theme for this year's event was "Exile." We were encouraged to name our own experiences of Exile and to answer the question, "What would you take with you into Exile?"

It was a start — that is all — to a weekend of sharing and praying together.



5. You will be challenged.

We discussed the realities of living together, including race, gender, and theological disagreement. We discussed what all the hubbub is about denominations and all the "posts." (You know, "post-this" and "post-that.")

We asked one another hard questions. We even fought a little. Yes, there were arguments...deep disagreements. We were encouraged in those moments to hold one another even more tightly.

The Goose is not always easy.

6. There will be music.

Lauren Steele, Ryan Sollee, Gungor, Great Wilderness, Obo Addy, Kelli Schaefer, Speaker Minds, and so many other bands graced the stage. It was an interesting experience.

You see, all the events are scheduled simultaneously. So, while Rachel was talking with us about Biblical Womanhood (ask her about calling her husband "Master"), Ryan Sollee was on stage offering some great music. At times, frustrating, the festival is designed like a website. Everything happens at once.

7. Everything happens at once.

There's something for everyone. With six venues, you could find something to suit you from dancing to the music to contemplative prayer. There was something at work all the time. This is just the official schedule. On the "deck" was a less official set of events such as sing-alongs and spoken word poetry.

Art hung everywhere. Liturgy just up and happened. Everywhere.

8. "This feels like what church should be."

If you go to the Wild Goose West event page on Facebook, you will read many such testimonials. People are checking in with one another. Community and faith continue online. Srapbooks are being built and promises have been made. None of us really want to let it go.

You see, the Spirit is like that. It blows where it will and it doesn't always stick around like you want it to, but it always leaves you with something, a taste of glory, something sweet on your lips, and the desire to taste it again. We're holding on to the weekend. We're holding on to one another.

9. The Spirit is contagious.

As you may know, the festival is named after a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit. Yvette Flunder spoke at the opening ceremony on Friday night and reminded us how geese migrate, how they take turns leading, how they lift one another along the journey.

How do they do this? Well, I say it's because they share the same Spirit and the festival reminded me that the Spirit is contagious. We pass it around in the hugs and the holy kisses. God's breath sometimes has coffee on it as you meet Jesus in the morning carrying his fiddle.

God's Spirit breathed itself out on all of us.

I'm a liturgy nerd (Support your local liturgical theologian!) and all weekend long I kept thinking, "This is sure one funky Triduum." 

The Three Days, the Triduum, are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Christian communities have been tinkering around with these three days in the church calendar for centuries (check out The Pilgrimage of Egeria).

Though not truly a parallel, I found myself enjoying the happy accident of the of the three-day weekend and our focus on Exile and, eventually, New Beginnings. From loss and confusion to finding new and shared realities, Jesus is walking. Grace does come and surprise us.

No, this is not the world you thought it was. Everything changes so quickly, but if you stop for a moment and welcome the Spirit in, you might find yourself restored and renewed.

Get thee to The Goose. I'll see you there.

Tripp Hudgins is a doctoral student in liturgical studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Palo Alto, Calif. You can read more of his writings on his longtime blog, "Conjectural Navel Gazing; Jesus in Lint Form" at AngloBaptist.orgFollow Tripp on Twitter @AngloBaptist.

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