The following post is part of a Wild Good Syncroblog. Check out all contributions!
When myself and two friends decided to drive to the Wild Goose Festival from Winnipeg, Canada, it sounded like a fun road road trip to a great event. Of course, a nearly 3500 mile round trip with three big guys in one small car always sounds more fun than the reality. In fact, when the first two days of driving had us drive through 2 tornadoes, we began to ask ourselves in God was trying to tell us something. Perhaps this wasn’t such a great idea after all.
And yet, as we pulled into the parking lot field, stepped into the thick, heavy humidity and got in line with many other new arrivals, there was an immediate sense of excitement. For me, at least, there was a sense that this was going to be a really great weekend. Admittedly, part of my optimism was due to my last minute decision to get a hotel room- yes, I wimped out and regret it not one bit!
Wild Goose Fest was something completely new to me. While many friends were regular attendees of Greenbelt (or other similar festivals), I’d never attended. I was drawn by the amazing list of speakers (I admit I am not much of a music enthusiast), but even more so by the promise of connecting with friends, many of whom I have known for years only through online correspondence. In the end, I caught a small bit of the former and not nearly enough of the latter. And it was worth it!
Having not caught half of the sessions I wanted to- I suspect the lineup will be more manageable at the next Wild Goose- there are two highlights I’d like to share: First was the sessions led by Mark Scandrette, whose new book, “Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love” is already challenging me deeply (and not just because it is being published under the same imprint as my book, Likewise Books). I’ve known Mark for a few years now and find myself increasingly excited by the example he & his community offer to the wider Christian community (i.e. Jesus Dojo). I also got to chat with Mark over pizza one evening. A real highlight.
The second session that impacted me was lead by Ian Morgan Cron. I came across Ian through his first book, “Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale”, which helped launch me on my own Franciscan journey. Since, he has become a friend who has been extremely supportive of me & my writing. Here’s what he had to say about “The Cost of Community”:
“Arpin-Ricci masterfully explores the spiritual genius of St. Francis of Assisi, the radical challenge of the Sermon on the Mount, and the inspiring yet unvarnished story of a brave community that earths the values that each has to offer. This book could change the landscape of Western Christianity. Highly recommended!”
In his session, Ian read excerpts from his powerful new book, “Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts”. It wasn’t just that the book is so well written- though it is. And it wasn’t only because Ian is a fantastic communicator- he really is! Instead, his readings were powerful because Ian was vulnerable enough to open his soul to us, sharing the beauty and the pain (which so often overlap) in way that made us laugh out loud and shed quiet tears. This is a book worth buying & a man worth knowing. However, the highlight for me was giving Ian the gift of an old Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera, like the one that from his childhood memories. That earned me a warm hug & a kiss on the cheek.
Even more than the speakers, though, were the times of connecting with friend, new and old. Unfortunately, there were too many people and too little time. Like the short minute I caught with Steve Knight or the quick wave across camps sites with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, both of whom have been great online friends for several years. Hanging out with Tom & Christine Sine was particularly refreshing, earning a new name from Tom: Jamie Little Flower. There are too many people to mention. However, the over all hang-out highlight would undoubtedly be with the InterVarsity Press crew. Those guys made me feel like family, leaving me wish I lived closer the Chicago.
Was Wild Goose all good? Of course, inevitable to a first time event, there were some bumps and glitches. The only real feedback I would give for next time would be to encourage more of the speakers to call us to something deeper, something challenging. At times it felt a great deal like we were preaching to the choir- and there is a huge need for those kinds of gatherings of solidarity. However, I also hope they take advantage of such a gathering the challenge us to prophetically into something more. I have little doubt that they will.
Overall, what I saw, felt, tasted, smelled and heard throughout the entire event was clear: Jesus. There was no doubt that the people gathered were there because of this disruptive Messiah who had derailed our lives away from our paths and towards His kingdom. Perhaps it wasn’t explicitly stated enough for some, but for me it was the clearest “given” of all.
The question remains: Will I go back to Wild Goose again? Given the near miss with a giant bull moose in northern Michigan, I suspect I will forgo the 28 hour, non-stop return drive, perhaps even opting for a flight. However, whatever way it happens, I am sure I will back at Wild Goose again- and more than once! So should you!