Wild-goosing & Story-sharing

by susan on July 14, 2016

13697248_10153544032466268_2158789429286404508_nOn Sunday night, I (along with a few others from The Well) returned from a beautiful, eclectic & life-giving gathering of people in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The Wild Goose Festival is an outdoor gathering centered around social justice, spirituality & art. Most people camp & most are craving community. Every year revolves around a different theme & various presenters, writers, activists, dreamers & doers host campground conversations about a topic related to that theme.

This year’s theme was “story” & a spectrum of stories were shared, celebrated & lamented together. I heard coming out stories that engendered laughter & tears. I heard stories of racial tension & broken down barriers. I re-heard the story of Kelly Gissendaner, this time from a prison-mate who told of Kelly’s ministry to her during a period of deep despair. Kelly was executed soon after by the State of Georgia. I heard stories behind tattoos, stories of guns turned into plowshares & stories of well-meaning church folks whose volunteerism took employment from roofers after Hurricane Katrina. I heard stories through music (gotta love the Indigo Girls!), art & poetry. The river running by our campground even seemed to be telling a story!

So. Many. Stories. Those were just a few.

IMG_3191Amid all of the stories that inspired, stirred, challenged & encouraged, there was also a shared story. It was a story of stubborn hope. Many who gathered saw this campground as sacred space, a place for spiritual refugees who’d given up on church, been left out, been told their going to hell, been alienated or just didn’t quite fit in. Gathered in the wilderness were people already familiar with spiritual wilderness & people learning how to find life there. There were Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, no affiliations, Buddhists & a ton of others spiritual nomads. In all our differences, something bound us together. We had known (& are willing to admit it) despair & were refusing to give up hope – hope that God, the Creator of all that is, was & will be is not finished with the Story.

I left feeling there was much more to be said and done to restore the brokenness all around, and I also left full of gratitude & full of hope.

I left reminded that: We are not in this alone. We have one another. We have those who’ve gone before us & a future grounded in God’s relentless love for all.

So consider this your invitation to next year’s Wild Goose: pre-sale tickets are available now :).

Peace & love,


For those who want a taste of “the goose”, here are a collection of quotes, paraphrases & stats that stirred me:

  • Prayer is not a strategy. It’s a way of life. – Alexia Salvatierra
  • The whole idea of race is a social construct we’ve created (we, as in white christians). We need to talk about white privelege. – Jim Wallis
  • One in three Black men born today can expect to go to prison. – Shane Claiborne
  • You are either on the side of radical love and inclusion or you are complicit. There is no room for bystanders. – Jacqui Lewis
  • Privelege is the ability to cry about it and walk away. – Julian DeShazier
  • We must help one another become who were meant to be for the good of the world, especially those in our own families. – Lisa Scandrette
  • The State of Georgia looked change in the face and they killed it. – Nikki Roberts (re: Kelly Gissendaner’s execution)
  • When you are understood, there you are home. Church should be the place where we can be honest with each other. – Christine Berghoef
  • The opposite of homelessness is community. When we call people “homeless”, we tell one story. When we talk about “people who are experiencing homelessness”, we tell a very different story. – Hugh Hollowell
  • The relationship we form in faith communities must be the kind that can create change (in our lives, our city, our world). – Tim Conder

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