I went to Wild Goose Fest and came back in love

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.

The weekend took my breath away.

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

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  2. Kristin Wiebe

    Love, love, love your thoughts Kyla – here at middle age many resonate with me. You know Eric and I come from a mennonite background and have more recently struggled with identity in the faith community. We have longed for a more honest and real connection with others that only comes from shared purpose. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • kylajoyful

      Kristin, I understand this, I do. When I'm in the middle of that struggle, I feel isolated and lonely. Community makes such a difference in the way we are able to walk through life. Knowing that there is a larger community helps, but it doesn't take away the immediate need to share a meal together. You are not alone.

  3. Kyla, I couldn't agree more about your overarching statement: Love your neighbor. Wild Goose, for me as well, was a great place to open up in conversation and share stories. As I write in my blog at http://rmhines.com/?p=877, it really is about inviting communities in and loving your neighbor just as Jesus loved, just as he invited communities that struggle to make their voices known.

    • kylajoyful

      Ryan, thanks for commenting. Yes, I think Jesus did invite communities to make their voices known. I hope I can follow in his footsteps. Thanks for sharing your blog post, I am so glad you have video of that presentation! I'm making my way to your blog, now.

  4. 1. Your redesign looks great, I like the colors and the site has a cozy feel to it.

    2. Thank you for touching on race in this post, it's a gutsy move. I felt like a raisin in a bowl of milk at college, but I got involved in a great community of people who reached out to "the only black guy". To quote Shel Silverstein, "we all look the same in the dark."

    3. You have me thinking about what I can do to love my neighbor as myself. Easy to talk about, harder to do. Glad you had such a great time at the festival. Chuuch!

    • kylajoyful

      Thanks, Jermaine! I wish you could have participated in the Festival, and really hope you and your family can make it out next year. There were plenty of families with babies there, so I think we can make it work! Re: feeling like a raisin in a bowl of milk – what a vivid description. I'll be thinking on that for a while. I hope I'll live like that community did for you in college, I know I haven't done that in the past. Here's to unity.

  5. Kyla, I am reading Take This Bread by Sarah miles right now and your post and the festival were a perfect combo as I reflect on the beauty of shared meals and how that breaks down walls. Your thoughts on invitations to the table came up in conversation last night and has been something running through my mind more today. I've been praying for our community in Pittsburgh to pull out more chairs for folks in the neighborhood. I am excited to see the ways in which God uses this call to Table to deepen our community's connection to Him. Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

    • kylajoyful

      I didn't mention it in the post, but one of my top moments of the weekend took place during the closing ceremony. At communion, the call was given to include everyone – no exceptions. I have a tough time holding the tears in when I heard that. I'm looking forward to hearing how these thoughts play out in your community.

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  18. Thanks for sharing Kyla!

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