Wild Goose is a moment–a moment in North America where creativity, compassion, and community can be felt and celebrated. My sons are both entering their adolescence. Adolescence is when the veil of childhood slips away and we realize that parents are fallible, authorities lie, institutions oppress. My eldest son Noah is studying the war in Afghanistan. Yesterday in school they talked about the number of U.S. soldiers killed this past month (fifty-eight)-more than the sum of all November casualties since 2001. They talked about the cost of the war: 200 million dollars a day. We went around the dinner table talking about the world’s situation—the unceasing wars, the inequality, the continued environmental degradation. “We should stop watching the news,” my son Joseph recommended. “It just makes me depressed.”
That’s when I told the boys about Wild Goose. I told them about Christians who were gathering to play music, tell stories, draw and dance and inspire one another to be signs of love and peace in the world. I told them about the various people who will be sharing ideas, strategies, and stories of peace-making. My sons, thirteen and fifteen years of age, got excited. “We’ll drive across the U.S. We’ll do a protest in DC, then we’ll go to Wild Goose.” We took out paper and pencil and made a plan.
My sons, I realize, are looking for hope. They’re looking for people who have the vision, energy, and capacity to face the violence, inequality, and despair of the present age. My kids need one of Heschel’s moments–a moment when God is embodied in song, in story, in play, and acts of kindness. My sons need to know they aren’t alone. They need to know there are others willing to face the fear and hurt of this world with creativity and courage. That’s why I’m bringing them to Wild Goose. You should too.
Mark Yaconelli is co-founder and co-director of Triptykos School of Compassion, and projects director of the Center for Engaged Compassion. He is the author of four books including Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus and Wonder, Fear, and Longing: A Book of Prayers