Many times over the last year, two of my friends consistently pestered me about attending the Wild Goose Festival. “This makes me think of you”, “I’ll take care of the details”, they’d say. In response, I told them that I was “out of vacation days” and “couldn’t afford it”. Oh, how easily I forget that God doesn’t need my money or my vacation days.
I cannot recount to you how it happened, because I don’t really remember, other than that any obstacle I saw for attending, was knocked over with a gentle shove. At 4am last Thursday, I found myself on the road with a woman I didn’t know, driving eight hours to participate in the first Wild Goose Fest.
Introductions, celebrations, and conversations.
Music, storytelling, and reflection.
Community, disunity, and Jesus.
I camped with a group of people I did not know (with two exceptions), and we quickly became a community. Serving each other and learning from each other while engaging in the conversations of the Goose. We nestled our campsite under the trees, equidistant from the Storytelling Tent and the Peace Garden. From there, we heard the sounds of Bluegrass Liturgy, Beer Hymns, and a Revival Roadshow.
The Storytelling tent hosted my favorite presenters, including Bart Campolo and Peterson Toscano. Campolo shared his personal journey, which took him to found Mission Year and eventually to resign and live intentionally in the inner city of Cincinnati. Peterson Toscano introduced new perspectives regarding sexuality in the Bible through several scenes from his plays. Toscano’s presentation was especially meaningful, as it came on the heals of a discussion with my community regarding sexuality in the church.
Each presentation, from speakers to musicians to art, as well as even the simplest of conversations, pointed to the center of one theme: Love your neighbor.
While I will continue to personally reflect on the many lessons I gleaned from four days of stories, community, disagreements, and agreements, one lesson continues to play on repeat in my mind.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Blacks stood up and asked for a seat at the table. Change happened when Whites began to listen, and then began to invite their dark-skinned neighbors to dinner.
During Women’s Suffrage, Women stood up and asked for a seat at the table. Change occurred when Men began to listen, and invite Women to participate.
When movements begin, they do so because one group stands up and asks for their seat at the table. An equal seat, because all humans are created equal. A seat at a table where each person, no matter their race, culture, sexual orientation, or economic status, is created in the image of a Mighty God.
When a movement succeeds, they do so because the dominant group begins to listen, followed by invitations. A realization occurs that all people really are created equal, and a black-skinned person can sit at the front of the bus, sharing a seat with a white person.
I am a white, middle-class, educated, Christian woman who does not have to think twice about being accepted in a community here in the United States. And while I may be a woman who often listens to the voices of minorities, who have I purposefully invited to the table? Who have I sought out and offered a personal invitation to join my community?
Are you listening to their voices? If you’re already listening, are you inviting? Maybe now is the time to take an active step to invite others into the conversation. Maybe we can go one step beyond that, and begin participating in other conversations ourselves.
I went to the Wild Goose Festival and I returned in love. In love with Jesus, in love with a God who seeks grace, mercy, and justice for all of creation. In love with community and people who make daily decisions to give dignity and respect. In love with the view of life from here.
“If you are thinking of change but worried that it will create a domino effect of one change after another, I’m here to tell you…..it’s true.” -Bart Campolo, Wild Goose Festival 2011