My favorite moments at the Wild Goose Festival…

Here in no particular order are ten moments that mattered to me at the Wild Goose Festival.

1. Hearing Paul Knitter talk about “dual belonging” as a way to integrate Christian faith with wisdom from other traditions.

2. Enjoying the “Wild Goose Brew” with Tim and Suzanne.

3. Doug Pagitt‘s talk about Christianity in the “Inventive Age.”

4. Tearing up as I told Gareth Higgins about my daughter’s health issues.

5. The Patheos party on Thursday night, conversing with the likes of Troy Bronsink, Leo Brunnick and Mike Morell.

6. Sharing a mango with one of the keynote speakers, as he offered me thoughtful and sensible advice about my career.

7. Telling new friends Lynne and Christine my spiritual journey, with all its twist and turns — and appreciating the freedom to be fully honest with folks I had only met moments before.

8. Introducing my old Pagan friend Pat to my (relatively) new Pagan friends Alison Leigh Lilly and Jeff Lilly.

9. Riffing on the connection between contemplation and God’s playfulness in the Storytelling tent Saturday after sundown.

10. Reconnecting with all the wonderful people I met in Northern Ireland last year (like Colin from Scotland and Chip Andrus).

What was so delightful about this event was the sheer abundance of creative, visionary people who were present. Not just the musicians and speakers, either: some of my favorite bloggers were in attendance, even though they were not scheduled to give a talk. This was the kind of place where just lingering at a table while you finished a beer could lead to a powerful and meaningful conversation with a stranger (about to become a new friend). As great as the speakers and musicians were, just as much magic took place far away from the stages and the tents as did within them.

Sunday morning, shortly before I left for home, I stood in line to use the porta-potty and struck up a conversation with the woman standing next to me. She was a science teacher from up north; and we talked about how wonderful the event was, because there were real conversations going on about the relationship between faith and science, and faith and social justice, and Christianity and other traditions, and the role of contemplation within all of the above. “To have all four of these conversations going on at the same time, in the same space, is truly extraordinary,” I mused. This, then, is the gift of the Wild Goose Festival: relationships (both old and new) and conversations (even difficult ones about tough topics). I think it is truly in such conversations and relationships that the movement of the Holy Spirit (er, the Wild Goose) can take place.

Spiritual Orientation
Simplicity and Silence
Concerning Emergence, Contemplation, and the Faith of the Future
Concerning Sheep, Goats, and the Unconditional Love of God


  1. PAUL QUINLAN says:

    where are the native americans and their spiriual traditions in all of this?

    • Paul, on my list they’re nowhere to be found, alas. But Richard Twiss was at the festival and it is my understanding that he gave several provocative, meaningful presentations on the challenge of integrating Christian faith with his Sicangu Lakota Oyate heritage.

      Part of the splendor (and challenge) of a festival like Wild Goose is that you simply can’t be everywhere at once. There were a number of wonderful speakers on questions of racism and economic injustice, for example, and I didn’t hear any of them either, and hence they did not make my particular list of meaningful moments. But that should not be seen either as a reflection on the festival as a whole, or even on me (except to admit that, given all that is going on in my life right now, I chose to participate in the WGF like an introvert, spending most of my time with a few close friends).

  2. I found Paul Knitter’s talk on “dual belonging” particularly interesting, too, and the Interfaith Panel that followed was incredibly valuable. What struck me most about the festival was how familiar so much of the conversation seemed to me, as someone outside of the Christian tradition. We really do have a lot more in common than we tend to believe. :)

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