Where do I begin? It is so difficult to talk about without using such seemingly trite words as "awesome" and "amazing." But it was. We arrive Thursday afternoon, just as the deadline for bringing cars into the campsite has passed, so we haul all of our gear in from the car. It's steamy. The trek equips us with the appropriate amount of humility and fatigue to gratefully receive the rest of the festival, I suppose.
From the car to the campsite we pass the social justice and sustainability booths and displays being set up. Among these: Blood Water, Amnesty International, People of Faith against the Death Penalty, The Gay Christian Network, Triangle Interfaith Alliance. It is clear we are going to be a part of a place that dares to tackle the real issues, not just the protestant "fluff" to which we are so accustomed when discussing missions work.
After setting up camp among others tents at the tree-shaded edge of a large pasture, we head to the opening ceremony. It is a blur now as I try to recall it. We sing, dance, laugh, and spread mud, ashes and water on one another. "The trigger has been pulled on Wild Goose, " says Founder Gareth.
The next three days are full of music, talking, praying, crying, and a great local beer from the Fullsteam Brewery in Durham. I learn that Jay Bakker (yes, the offspring of Jim and Tammy Faye) is passionate about acceptance of the LGBT community in church. (On that note: I heard way too many pastors say "I believe in including these groups, but I'm afraid of what my congregation/diaconate/convention/fellowsip, etc. will think of/do to me when they find out I feel this way. We realize it is the same argument used over and over again in the South during the Civil rights movement. Baker essentially tells all of them to grow a pair and stand up for the marginalized! Yes, my friends "on the fence" I agree. I say this out of tough love: GROW A PAIR!) I listen to Tickle. Campolo, Mclaren. What they say fills me with both righteous indignation and renewed commitment. I learn, under the lights of a humble barn stage, that Michelle Shocked is one hell of a storyteller, and that the Psalters (kind of a Matisyahu/Mumford and Sons mashup) are incredible live. I learn that DoxoSoma brings body and spirit together in a similar fashion to yoga, and I love it. I learn that the greatest encounters with God can occur during seemingly irreverent moments like "The Bluegrass Liturgy" and "Hymns and Beer." I learn that total strangers are called to love on my children like they've known them for years and to teach them to create, and to experience love and fellowship by zooming down a 300 foot slip and slide covered with baby shampoo and water from a fire truck that has backed up to it.
Yes, I feel like I need debriefing for my re-entry to the "real world." But even though I have washed the festival dirt and grime down the drain, and have pulled two stowaway ticks off my husband, I will continue to have Wild Goose with me.