This weekend I journeyed to an adventurous and lively festival known as Wild Goose. In Celtic Spirituality, the Holy Spirit is represented not as a peaceful dove, but a wild goose. And my oh my, did we have a wild and crazy time! There was dancing and body painting, fiery speakers and art everywhere. One of my favorite times was a late after noon session of beer and hymns.
If you’ve ever been to The Bridge in Portland, you’ll have some idea of how this sounded. Todd and Angie Fadel rocked and waved and danced in the middle of our circle, singing, shouting, screaming the lyrics to old, old hymns. About a hundred of us gathered around, beer in hand and shouted with them. Aaron Strumpel rocked out on the trumpet, and several joined in with drums, pounding and clapping. A ruckus rumpus.
We were loud. We were off key. We couldn’t remember all the words. Todd ran around in a spider man mask, toting a kermit the frog puppet, and licking his phone. We laughed about “submission verses” and sang choruses over and over.
There was something strangely sacred about this somewhat irreverent gathering. Here we were, a bunch of liberals and hippies, shouting the words that hundreds of thousands have sung. Our joy and jumping brought new life to the texts. Our mocking pointed out the sometimes sexist and unjust language that perhaps we sing without paying attention.
And as we jumped and clapped and danced and played, I felt free to wonder, to be in awe of a God who is wild and unpredictable. A God who isn’t confined to tradition or Scripture or one time and place. A God who continues to move and create and play.