So one thing I’m hoping Wild Goose isn’t going to be is… clean. We’re used to clean homes, places where we know how things work and what goes where, but one of the core things about going to a festival is that all of these homely securities are disturbed. We eat strange foods, have different sleep patterns, let our hygiene standards slip…just a little.
What we classify as ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ is more relative than we think. A Coke can in a freshly plowed field is litter. Transport that same can to your fridge, and it’s the mud from the field that suddenly becomes the filth. Things get dirty when things get out of place, and Jesus spent much of his ministry challenging people’s ideas of what was dirty and clean, acceptable and unacceptable. He touched lepers, spoke with Samaritan women, dined with tax collectors and had his feet washed by a prostitute.
But these things were done not to bring people pain, but to help to see ‘the other’ afresh. The harsh nature of Jewish law meant that Pharisees could literally walk by on the other side – allowing themselves to remain ‘clean’, but meaning they had no engagement with, or empathy for, those who were excluded by society.
The wonderful thing about festivals is that our own dirt boundaries are challenged. For a few days we have to re-think what is ‘in’ or ‘out’, and my prayer for Wild Goose is that it will be a properly dirty carnival, where God’s radical acceptance of us is modeled, and where an inclusive paradise is tasted by all.