It’s been over a month now, but mid-July I attended my third Wild Goose Festival. The first time I went to Wild Goose, it was 2015 and my life was in shambles. I had recently broken up with my partner of 5 years, and I was in the middle of another complicated relationship situation. I had no idea what I was doing, and my plans for the future had completely crumbled. But, luckily, I was interning for the goddess Bec Cranford, who told me to pack a bag because we were going camping. I had no idea what was in store, but I knew that if Bec loved it, it had to be good.
That first Goose, I wandered around by myself a lot. I stood with my feet in the river and stared out into the wilderness. I played drums in a circle with strangers. I wept while someone held me. It was what my soul needed in one of the most difficult seasons I’ve experienced. I was in the process of learning that I could care about justice, creation, people of color, LGBTQ people, and still be a Christian. I found belonging with like-minded Goose-goers. I sat in the presence of prophets. I sang and danced with my feet in the dirt. My first Goose came at just the right time.
The next year, I started a job right before the Goose was scheduled, so I wasn’t able to go. In 2017, though, I returned gleefully. It felt like coming home. I stayed up until 3am dancing. I held Nadia Bolz-Weber’s purse. Even though I came to the Goose alone that year, I didn’t feel lonely.
This past year was potentially my favorite experience yet. I was able to convince my best friend to come with me, and I acquired a tent through the magic of Craigslist. Having met more friends and acquaintances at the Goose over the years, I was excited to see these kindred souls in person. But perhaps the most fulfilling part of it all was being able to look back. The Goose serves as a time marker for me, much like birthdays or New Year’s. But because I have time and space for self-reflection at the Goose, I’m able to mark time in an even more poignant way.
My first year, I never could’ve imagined that I would find love again with someone who loves me so well. I was in the throes of abuse, and a healthy relationship seemed far off. My second year, I wrestled with my experiences of sexual assault and whether I was brave enough to tell my own story. I also felt tangled in my feelings about my sexuality. A year ago, I couldn’t fathom coming out publicly. I could barely be honest with myself. This year, I bought a shirt that says “THE FUTURE IS QUEER” and got a tattoo that incorporates the bi flag. This coming year, I’m considering what it would look like to be a co-creator and sharing my story with others at the Goose.
When I think I haven’t come very far, the Goose serves as a reminder that I have accomplished great things within myself. I have healed. I have wept. I have felt the dirt on my toes. I have been vulnerable. I have done the emotional work to be true to myself and my experiences.
Each July, I treasure the ability to take a litmus test to my soul and know that I am brave enough to fly with the wild geese.