Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).
The Wild Goose gathered her brood by the French Broad River again on September 2-5, 2021. She took a year off in 2020 to protect them from COVID. Many wondered how the pandemic and the heightening awareness of social injustices in the world would change the festival.
The Wild Goose Festival 2021 remains a festival! Music, warm fellowship, natural beauty, art, and people finding and sharing their voices. As always, we enjoyed the abundance of love and boundless welcome among a remarkably diverse community of pilgrims.
Jeff Clark, who heads the organizing effort, opened with heartfelt gratitude to all of us for showing up. He did it from the main stage then walked through the crowd, thanking everyone personally. Clearly, threats and uncertainties of the pandemic worried the leadership. Admission required proof of vaccination, and the numbers were down. But the Goose gathered us.
As usual, I served on the Spiritual Direction team. With an ear for God’s loving presence and creative activity, I listened prayerfully to the lives of each visitor. Except for attending a couple of programs for writers and powerful sermons by Rev. James Forbes and Rev. Jo Luehmann, I listened to the hearts of pilgrim souls. So I write this post not as a news reporter, but as a listener.
What theme resonates the most in my memory of the Wild Goose Festival 2021? Among the many forms of injustice addressed, I most distinctly recall stories and tears about religious abuse:
- Traumatic memories of emotional neglect and rejection by powerful people misusing scripture.
- Disillusionment with callous attitudes toward the very vulnerable people with whom Jesus identified.
- Loneliness in invalidating religious environments.
Yet, the Goose invites these to come and keeps them safe in the fellowship.
Some question the validity of scripture and religious authority used once to treat them or those they love in unchristlike ways. But all inspire me for engaging the questions. They inspire me because their wounds move them to heal and grow like strong wood over a gash in a great tree. Moreover, they persevere in the quest for shalom with our peacemaking Lord. Not having found the righteousness they restlessly seek, they hunger and thirst for it, and they will be filled.
After seeing my last directee on Sunday, I hustled to the main stage venue and sat next to Wanda. Halfway through the closing worship ceremony, the house band performed, “The Kingdom is Yours.” The lyrics reflect a very thoughtful reading of the Beatitudes. To listen to the YouTube version, click here. Musically, you will hear how the Beatitudes affirm these suffering seekers. And you as well, wherever you are on the road.
Wild Goose Festival 2019: Christ in the Beauty and the Gathering
Wild Goose Festival 2018: Faces That Keep Calling Me Back
Wild Goose Festival 2017: Come to the Banquet and Be Filled
Wild Goose Festival 2016: Mourning and Dancing by the River
Voices of the Wild Goose Festival
To view the website for the Wild Goose Festival, click here.