Crafting A Thin Place: Karla Yaconelli

There is a Celtic saying that “heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.” A “thin place” is where, for a brief time, the separation between heaven and earth dissolves and we are able to glimpse the existence of a world that is beyond what we know through our five senses. A “thin place” is exactly where my late husband and I found ourselves the very first time we experienced the Greenbelt Festival in England … and each the many times we returned. From the outset, we longed (as did others) for a similar festival in the United States. Over the last 20-odd years, many of us tried to make it happen, but for lots of complex reasons, it just didn’t … until now.

I’m positively euphoric about the Wild Goose Festival because …

  1. … I am tired. I am tired of political and theological polarization; of fear and anger and hatred; of “us” and “them;” of having the same conversations over and over but getting nowhere; of people being marginalized (or worse, condemned) simply for being who they truly are or saying what they truly think; of rigidity and dogma and people’s seeming unwillingness to change or sincerely consider another point of view. And I am tired of the impact all this “infighting” has on the weakest among us: the oppressed, exploited, suffering and broken brothers and sisters of our world.
  2. … I am filled with hope. As part of the team that is helping put this festival together, I am walking with people who challenge and inspire me; people who embrace spirited but respectful debate and differences of opinion about all aspects of life; people who work tirelessly on behalf of the subjugated and the poor; people who live and share the gospel of Grace and will be satisfied with nothing short of the Kingdom of God being manifest on earth, as it is in heaven;  people who seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God; people who yearn to create a place of belonging – a place where, despite our differences – we are safe, God’s grace is palpable, and the wind of the Wild Goose blows freely among us; people who help me believe that we really can find a way  to heal our fractured world.
  3. … I love beauty. The arts are not only beautiful, they communicate the truth of God in ways that nothing else can and they help us find common ground in uncommon places.
  4. … I believe change truly can – and does – happen. I believe crazy, magical, mysterious, miraculous, phenomenal, holy stuff happens in the thin places when, for a few shining moments, the veil between this world and the next parts … and we can sense that heaven on earth might actually be possible.

Karla Yaconelli’s background encompasses ministry, business, publishing, and the arts.  As a University dance major with extensive training in classical ballet, Karla owned and operated The Upstairs Studio, Ballet Northwest, and was co-owner/operator of The Dance Factory, all located in Northern California.  She was Managing Editor of The (Wittenburg) Door magazine and, as co-owner (with her late husband, Mike Yaconelli) of Youth Specialties in San Diego, CA, served as Associate Managing Editor of Publishing, Budget and Human Resources Director, CAO, and ultimately became CEO in the wake of Mike’s untimely death in 2003.  She has been in ministry of one form or another for the past 25 years.  Now retired but ever at work on philanthropic endeavors (with a bit of writing and speaking thrown in), Karla currently serves as a lay leader of Grace Community Church in Yreka, CA, is on the board of Revolution NYC, and is a founding member of the Wild Goose Festival board. As a Greenbelt Festival devotee since the late ’80s, the Wild Goose Festival is a 20-year dream come true for her! She has five (grown) kids/step-kids, seven grand-kids, and lives part-time in each Yreka and San Diego, CA, with her husband, Ralph Diaz, two small dogs, and three not-so-small cats.

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