Wild Goose – Encounters with a Thin Space

This post is part of the july synchroblog – an eclectic bunch of bloggers writing on the same topic.  This month is centered on the wild goose festival, a justice-arts-spirituality festival held the last week of june in North Carolina.  This synchroblog will include stories from the gathering as well as from those who couldn’t go, centered on what the wild goose (the celtic image of the Holy Spirit) is stirring up for us.  The links so far are at the bottom of this post, with more to come as they get posted.  I love opportunities like this to reflect and think together about faith and the people we journey with.

Flight of the Wild Goose

The Wild Goose festival in North Carolina heralded what I hope will be a new phase in Christian festivals.  It opened a thin space into the kingdom of God.  The concept of thin places is one that is well established in Celtic tradition.  These are places or spaces where the veil between heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to sense the glory of God.  All of us encounter such places in our faith journey and for me the Wild Goose festival was one such place.   There really was a sense of the sacredness of life and faith that pervaded the site in spite of the heat and the dust.

All of us need thin spaces in our lives where we experience the nearness of God.  They could be actual places but are more often events like this where the veil between heaven and earth seems to be opened for a brief time.  They can even come to us in verses of scripture, memories, songs, or practices that you find especially meaningful.  The Wild Goose festival seemed to open up all of these for me.  There were songs I listened to, sacred practices I participated in and people I spoke to through whom the presence of God seemed to shine in vibrant colours.

The burning bush

For most of us I think that the specialness of the festival lay not in who spoke or performed but in what conversations we held and how we interacted with fellow travellers on the journey of faith.  There were plenty of opportunities to enjoy food, have fun and enjoy life together.  I didn’t go down the water slide but I was tempted – maybe that too would have opened another type of thin space for me.

Prayers at the burning bush

There was an openness to the spirit that I must confess I have rarely experienced before in my many years of attending and speaking at events like this.  The holy spirit really did seem to hover over the festival Festivals like this are so important because they allow all of us to voice not just our beliefs and hopes but also our doubts and insecurities.   Providing an environment in which we can question faith, God and our fellow travellers is so necessary yet so rare.  Usually we are encouraged to sign on the dotted line and pretend that we accept without question all that is being served up to us.

Following the festival I wrote this prayer part of which I know I have already shared but I thought it seemed an appropriate way to end here:

God’s light shines in unexpected places
Where the veil between earth and heaven has thinned
We have seen it in the face of friend and stranger
We have seen it in the midst of darkness and light
We have heard it in the memories and song
We have heard it in the laughter and fun
May it make the spirit soar within you and take flight
May it guide you through the day and lead you through the night
May it shine for all to see and give us light

Here is the complete list of posts.