As I wake up on this Sunday morning, only a week into the new presidency, witnessing egregious civil and human rights threats unfurl from the pen of the president, I am faced with writing this post talking about why we need gatherings like Wild Goose and her smaller events like Intersections in Jacksonville, FL.
See, I’ve been working for decades to fuse my longing for social justice with an extravagant spirituality. I looked in the halls of the academy, I searched in the walls of seminary, I’ve worn out the pages of my Bible and volumes and volumes of commentaries, literature and newspapers. Then a few years ago, I stumbled upon Wild Goose and had the foolishness to throw my hat in the ring as a speaker. What resulted was a confirmation of what I thought to be true, but had yet to experience fully in a way that permeated my being and transcended my book-learnin’ ways – that our faith informs and forms our activism and our activism informs and forms our faith.
The best way I can share that feeling with you is to share the blog post I wrote after my first in 2013
Contrary to my stress-attack drive to get there on Thursday (ask the women who were my passengers) I DID get exactly the campsite I needed. Had I gotten there a hour earlier or later I might not have met the people who would BE my wild Goose.
Contrary to my pessimism about the location and timing of our Sex Slam the event was packed with folks standing along the back wall and a handful of people who could not even get in. Not only was it packed with bodies it was overflowing with an incredible spirit of love and pain and hope and brokenness and grace and grace and grace. I am grateful, humbled and excited about what transpired in that room when each of us, Alise, Frank, Rebekah, Asher, Dave and I shared in an unexpectedly powerful format. My 6 minutes were devoted to the difference between being welcoming and affirming and what it was like raising two beautiful children to know fear and lies as part of their Christian formation.
Contrary to my plans to attend every single event I could pack in the weekend, I spent many an hour floating freely around the grounds taking in the sights, sounds and smiles of the whole shebang. I even had a moment of straight up trashy sabbath when I sat alone under the awning of the Holy Roller Pop-Up slowly enjoying a tin of smoked oysters, Tostitos Scoops and a chilly PBR while watching the leaves dance in the lightly falling rain. How odd the moments that sneak up on us and are holy. Thin Places.
Contrary to what many may think (and some have claimed) the events that I did attend were WAY more than the same old theological, progressive emergent back-patting blah-blah. Here I ran smack-dab into a yearning for and a call to action that invites us to truly live into the gospel of love and justice we claim as our story. This was not just some big muddy party folks, this was a convergence of energy that felt like movement building. All weekend I kept thinking of the old camp meetings of the Second Great Awakening.
Contrary to my notions of who I would hang out with I found myself drawn to spend most of my fellowship energy with my neighbors, Tim and Jan, soaking in their incredible hospitality and making new, dear friends. When asked who was the most interesting person I’d met at Wild Goose I tell everyone that it was my neighbors. Conversations over grits and coffee, and over chips and salsa, and over good wine and fine beer were beautiful and holy. Thank you.
Transcending my expectations of how it would feel to see the Indigo Girls for the bazillioneth time, I was utterly shaken to the core by being in a crowd of Christians, some singing along, some a little perplexed, to the tunes that have been a soundtrack for my journey all these years. It was church my friends and something deep and powerful shifted in me in that muddy field with all those folks. So powerful in fact, that I have not yet found the words to convey what happened out there.
More than I could have anticipated, Sunday morning Eucharist with my new-found friends gently unwound a tightly guarded heart to shed little more light upon wounds I had carefully hidden for far too long.
And friends, we need that moment now more than ever. I am incredibly grateful the those Wild Goose neighbors I met so long ago have become my dear friends, hell, my best friends (Jan is in my upcoming wedding!). How amazing is it that they are the among the chief organizers of this Wild Goose Event called Intersections?!?
I believe, with all of my heart, mind and soul that faith without works are dead and in order to love God, our neighbors and ourselves, we must act as the hands and feet of God in the world. And I believe the way we do that best is to come together as community, discern together what we are called to do, listen deeply with our souls wide open to the still speaking spirit of God and then take that fire out into the world to partner with God in bending the moral arch of the universe toward justice.