How Wild Goose Festival Helps Me Heal

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.

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