I love the use of the Celtic “wild goose” as the symbol of this gathering exploring creativity, justice, and spirituality. It evokes that other distinctly Celtic idea of peregrinati – journeys or wanderings of an undefined but spiritual nature. It is the wild goose flying where it will, exploring new territories and discovering new horizons amidst even the everyday and the familiar landscapes of home. The Celtic monks followed that call of the wild bird on their peregrinati, journeying with the spirit on undetermined paths. They served, and worshiped, and reflected along the way but often had no real goal or destination beyond the journey itself. They embodied Tolkien’s famous “not all who wander are lost” phrase, for it was their wanderings – their wild goose chases -that held the meaning in themselves.
Over the last decade or so I have come to embrace this idea of peregrinati. Static systems that enforced doctrine, demanded conformity, and discouraged questions had left me hollow. Those were expressions of faith focused primarily on enacting a transaction that guaranteed what would happen to me after I died. There was no continual quest for truth, no moving to where the spirit led, no grasping of the idea that following Jesus was the purpose of my faith and not just a means to an end. It was at the point when I was about to walk away from that façade of a faith that felt so lifeless and bereft of soul that I stumbled upon the most basic of truths – that the wild goose cannot be caged.
It was freeing to discover that to be led by the Spirit was what it meant to follow Jesus. Both require movement – intentional wanderings where the life of faith is to be lived. My peregrinati were not just missional moments in my faith journey, they were the shape of my entire embodied faith. Embracing how God’s image is creatively reflected in my life and pursuing the call to seek justice for the oppressed became more than just optional additions to an unchanging faith, but the very substance of the journey itself. To follow Jesus and be led by the Spirit means engaging in this intentional wandering. I am now free to be always seeking, always serving, always following as I wander on this journey. And it was stepping out on that wild goose chase that not only saved my faith, but drew me onto the path where that faith is ever developing and discovering new things.
See you in June!
Julie Clawson is a mom, blogger, activist, dreamer, and author of Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices (IVP, 2009).