I’m excited this morning. Today, at 5 PM, something I’ve been waiting on for months begins. I’m talking about the Wild Goose Festival at Shakori Hills. Wild Goose, what the hell is that, you ask? In the organizer’s own words: “The Wild Goose is a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit. We are followers of Jesus creating a festival of justice, spirituality, music and the arts. The festival is rooted in the Christian tradition and therefore open to all regardless of belief, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, denomination or religious affiliation.” For once, the use of a Celtic metaphor makes sense and isn’t just a privileged, white Americans ripping off another culture. You see the driving force behind this festival is a man named Gareth Higgins, an Irish expatriate born in Belfast and now residing in Durham. I first heard of Higgins, an author and activist for peace and justice, when I attended the Big Tent Christianity conference last fall. Like Peter Rollins, Higgins is an Irish man and for me, that’s where the similarities end. While Rollins’ approach is more esoteric and spiritual, Higgins is more nuts and bolts. Of course, that perception may have been influenced by the discussion they were involved in, Rollins talking the Bible and Higgins talking about justice, but it’s the one I have. Hopefully, by the time the weekend is over, I’ll have a better a picture of both of them. Higgins and Rollins aren’t the only people I’m hoping to see at this thing. Bart Campolo, his father Tony Campolo, Jay Bakker, Shane Claiborne, Brian McLaren and more. That’s not counting friends I haven’t seen in a quite a while. See why I’m excited?
But, that’s not the only thing that’s got me wound up. The best part of the whole weekend is who’s going with me: my youngest daughter, Olivia. A couple of months ago, I mentioned the festival to her, not thinking she’d be interested in going. I mean, she’s 16 and it’s a whole weekend camping with her old fart of a father. Imagine my surprise when she said she wanted to go. But, it really shouldn’t have surprised me; she’s infected with the same virus that’s got me. One that causes us to look at Christianity with new eyes and, just maybe, start being the kind of followers we should be.
The festival is at Shakori Hills, a community arts center dedicated to building community through arts and education. Set on a farm near Silk Hope in Central North Carolina, it’s also the site of multiple music festivals. On a side note, my family has roots in Silk Hope; my ancestors settled there in the early 1800’s and, as far as I know, some are still there. I do know that several are buried in the area. So, in a weird way, this weekend is also sort of a homecoming for me. But, back to the festival. I’m not sure how things are going to go, whether I’ll have internet access or even time to worry about it. Therefore, you may not hear from me until Sunday or Monday. If I can, I’ll keep you updated on all the happenings. If not, I’ll tell you all about it then. See you later.