Since my stroke, about 18 months ago, we haven’t been able to travel much. Earlier this year, I found out that I was given the honor of being a co–creator at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina. Laura and I decided to talk about our book, Out into the Desert. We made the trip via Hamilton, Ohio to see Laura’s sister, and by way of Nashville on the ride home.
The Wild Goose Festival is a “4-day Spirit, Justice, Music and Arts Festival.” I would describe it as a big pasture that has come to life with tents, speakers, music, and discussions. It is very much focused on social justice and especially inclusive of the queer community. I saw so many things I don’t normally see. There were trans people and gay people and lots of people letting their hair down. My favorite was the drag show to kick off Saturday morning.
Late Saturday afternoon, we watched a podcast by Sheri Pallas (Fireside Creators) about implementing social justice in your neighborhood. Earlier in the weekend, we listened to various discussions about the Divine Feminine, Tarot, and a couple of other demonstrations in the “healing arts” tent.
Without sounding boastful, the best part for Laura and I was presenting our topic on Friday morning. It had been several years since we had spoken in public. We rehearsed for several days to get our timing down and to get over our nerves of speaking in an unknown environment. There were a couple of issues for me to stand up on the stage, but we worked through them, and the crowd was supportive and interested in what we were talking about.
Later we had a book signing, which didn’t attract a lot of attention, but we had a few more chances to have some good deep conversation with people that stopped by. So, for the most part, the Goose was a good experience for us. There are only a couple of issues I would like to point out because I think that authenticity demands it.
About 18 months ago, I had a stroke and have been working through my rehabilitation ever since. We haven’t traveled a lot, so I was only aware of certain obstacles to individuals with disabilities. I found one somewhere in West Virginia when we stopped at a Bob Evans restaurant. There were only a couple of handicapped spots and a very full restaurant. Someone with a wheelchair had to park next to us in the side lot about 150 yards from the front door.
I was happy to see the Goose had ADA parking, but it was several hundred yards from the edge of the festivities. So, if we weren’t lucky enough to catch a random shuttle, we had to walk just to get there which is very painful for me especially in the heat of the North Carolina sun. There was a shuttle stop for ADA, but it was at one end of the festival grounds, so usually when we considered that option, the venue we desired was always about the same distance.
This reality didn’t totally destroy our weekend, but we generally had to leave early afternoon because I was exhausted from the heat and the walking. All of the volunteers were kind and courteous, but because the shuttle system was haphazard, they sometimes were distracted and didn’t notice us.
The goose seems to be very inclusive and very focused on the LGBTQIA+ community. I celebrate that, especially since I have never really seen that type of inclusiveness where I live and in the denomination that I originated from. It is refreshing and encouraging! So, my “negative” comments are hopefully directed toward improvement so that, in the future, we will see more individuals with disabilities, and seniors, and people of color at the Goose.
What would you do differently, Karl? I would put the shuttles on more of a “bus route” type of schedule so that people know where to catch the shuttle and that another shuttle will be coming if the rider missed the first one. I would also place the porta potties in more strategic locations.
On another note…
I understand that the goose is generally a progressive Christian crowd, and they seem to be open to many different types of Co-creators. I was glad they allowed us to speak because we would consider ourselves outside of Christianity, and in a period of evolution, which some people call deconstructing. Many of the people we talked to seemed to be triggered by anything churchy. Even if this is not where everyone is, with more and more people deconstructing and leaving the church every day, I hope the Goose finds space for speakers and healers like us to be with these types of people.
Laura sometimes points out that I never give a heart emoji on Facebook. I generally just “like” things. The reason I don’t say “love” every time is because, in my mind, I’m saving the love emoji for the very best. If I love everything or if I’m “wild” about the Goose every time, will people believe me when I really do “love” my experience? That’s how my mind works—it’s kind of weird.
The Goose definitely lit my fire about social justice activities, and I now know what to expect if I return to the Goose. I am grateful that we were included this year and I probably should have waited a few weeks to take it all in and then give a summary. Another shortcoming—I am impatient at times.
We live in Northwest Missouri where migratory birds fly by a couple of times a year. We see Canadians, Whites and Blues as they make their way North and South, stopping over here by the tens of thousands. Next year when I drive down to the refuge, I will view the geese differently because of my experience in North Carolina in a pasture that came to life before my eyes.
I will remember the people that spoke to us transparently and shared their hearts with us. I’ll remember the drag queen, and the trans influencer, and new friends that joined us for the discussion. But most of all I will remember the people that pulled me aside discreetly and told me about their fears and the things that trigger them. I’ll try to remember that all of us have trauma, and that we are so connected in various different ways. We need each other, so we must keep trying to flock together occasionally and work through the difficulties that these kinds of things present.
We love you all!
Be where you are,
Be who you are,
Be at peace!