I sit here, drying off after an afternoon of long rain storms that made me glad that I am not camping. But it did not dampen the spirit of the Goose.
Kymberlee met one of the people dancing at a 12-step meeting earlier in the day. The person stated that this was the first time people at the Goose had seen him sober, and here they are dancing like a fool in the mud and the rain. What a great story. This is why I love the Goose.
Each person here represents a story, often a story of repression and legalism that became unglued through adversity, leading to a healing that involved a tortuous journey to an authentic faith. As I discussed in my previous post, traditional Western faith tends to be about destinations rather journeys, with each faithful pilgrim holding tight to their faith box, unwilling to let go of what is inside in fear of the box collapsing.
Jesus didn’t offer boxes in his ministry. Instead he shattered almost all the faith boxes religious and non-religious persons held on to. His disciples certainly couldn’t keep anything boxed if the second chapter of Acts is an accurate portrayal.
So it is with my life. I was offered something incredibly valuable to me this morning and I believe it was a gift from God. My Jesus-reflector friend from last year, Shane, offered me his motorcycle and a helmet. So off I went in search of a nice road.
Just last week I was struggling with the loss of my motorcycle two years ago, as I had found my winter gloves mildewed in the garage. While cleaning them, I was questioning why I still had them, so I resolutely made the promise to get rid of my motorcycle gear and put this part of my identity behind. It just made no sense in my life of family and responsibilities. It was either my family or a motorcycle, not both.
I came back from the ride and Shane mentioned that he had $365 invested in that bike. Not that it took an expert to tell that it was a bargain bike. No rear shocks, no front brakes, a seat made from sheet metal and a 1/4″ foam pad, and no speedometer, tachometer or fuel gauge. But it ran. This shifted the possibilities in my mind and made me realize that a beater bike might just work for me, that I didn’t need ABS, a windscreen, or saddle bags. That I might be able to have a family and a motorcycle. It opened my eyes to a future possibility that I didn’t know existed.
This analogy isn’t perfect, but the Wild Goose is great at making you see similar faith congruities. That you can be a Christian and support full gay rights, and embrace spiritual traditions from other faiths to help you commune with God, and be comfortable with a faith that isn’t nailed down by black and white doctrine, and be committed to justice and peace in significant personal ways. Not all, maybe not any, but you’ll find a personal story here that shows the handprint of God as others struggle with these and many other stumbling blocks.
To get to some of these seemingly strange places, you have to be unsafe from time-to-time. My motorcycle ride this morning was not safe. Most riders will notice I was disobeying almost every safety rule in the book. Shorts instead of long pants, sandals instead of sturdy boots, a t-shirt instead of a protective jacket, no gloves, and a thin helmet that would probably offer no protection should my head encounter a hard object. Did I mention that it had no front brake? That I made it back alive was a combination of grace and skill, part God, part human.
I believe that this is true for faith journeys as well. You need to be willing to be unsafe to gain faith experiences that will lead you down a road you might not otherwise take. You have to trust God and practice discernment to ensure you’ll make it back safely, but you’ll be changed.
That is what the Goose represents to me. Two thousand people who are willing to risk opening their faith box and consider how much bigger God could be. Bigger than they could ever imagine.
I offer this prayer from Thomas Merton as a prayerful close to this festival:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahed of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Categories: Deep Thoughts