Catching the Wild Goose: Thanks and First Thoughts

After camping for four days straight at the Wild Goose Festival down in steamy, sunny North Carolina, my body almost rebells against the cushy bed, the hot shower and the dry, still air-conditioned air. I was getting used to the delicious feel of sweat and sun on my skin, sharing my home with spiders and trees, and waking to the sound of birds and snoring neighbors at dawn. I do believe camping is good for the soul.

The Wild Goose Festival was a wonderful, welcoming and challenging event for Jeff and me, and we’re both very grateful for the hard work and vision all of those staff members and volunteers who helped organize and run the festival this year. And of course, the weekend wouldn’t have been complete without great friends to share it with (you know who you are!) and new friends to be made (hi again, if you’re reading!).

But perhaps most importantly, festivals like The Wild Goose remind me of how important it is to reach out to folks of other spiritual traditions and make those connections.

This morning, catching up on news I missed while away from the computer over the past several days, I came across several mentions of Christians taking it upon themselves to preach or pray against the “evils of paganism.” These news stories are so deeply at odds with the kind of thoughtfulness, acceptance and good faith I witnessed over and over again at the Wild Goose Festival. Even during those times when a certain amount of Christian favoritism did crop up, it was still clear that festival-goers and speakers alike were well aware of their own limitations and potential biases and were actively struggling towards greater understanding while still remaining anchored in the integrity and authenticity of their own tradition(s).

These are the kinds of Christians that we as Pagans need to be reaching out to and connecting with, rather than spending our time complaining about (and so giving more attention to) every petty slight from the Christian Right. These are the folks who are not only open to our presence, but curious and encouraging and supportive of diversity in ways that would make even some Pagans blush (and hopefully, try harder). We have as much to learn from such Christians as we have to teach, and it is that reciprocity and mutual benefit that really makes interfaith work so essential.

I’ll definitely have more to say about my experiences and ponderings of the past weekend (at least one more blog post, if not several!), but today will be a necessary day of catching up on mundane work around the home and home-office. Which is good, since I’ll probably need more than a single night’s sleep to process everything and be able to write about it with any semblance of sense. So stay tuned for more — and in the meantime, go find your friendly neighborhood Christian and invite them to lunch. As Rabbi Or Rose said on Saturday, interfaith work is all about building relationships.

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Alison Leigh Lilly
Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic spiritual heritage of her Celtic ancestors, exploring themes of peace, poesis and wilderness through essays, articles, poetry and podcasting. You can learn more about her work here.

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