My shoes are still caked in mud, my tent is drying out in the back yard and my smelly clothes and I are about to go on a little trip to the laundromat. I just got back from the Wild Goose Festival 2013 late last night and I am feeling inspired to break my hiatus from the blogosphere and do a little writing. I have a few ideas but for now I'm going to start with the theme of this year's festival: Re-Membering the Body.
Friday night I was sitting in the Still Mt. Pub having dinner with a couple of friends and fellow festival goers. We were talking about the theme for this years festival and what we liked about it. In our little discussion we came up with four things that the name could mean and how they all worked together and played against each other. These four ideas revolve around the multiple possible meanings of the words in the title which we decided are remembering (as in not forgetting or bringing to mind), re-membering (as in bringing back members), body (the physical structure that you call your body) and body (the collection of God's children).
1. remembering the body
Reverend William Barber's talk was titled "'We' is the most important word in the social justice vocabulary" and one of the ideas at the heart of this years festival was remembering that we are all in this together and as Mother Theresa said we belong to each other. Perhaps the thing I enjoyed about the festival the most was the living out of a radically different kind of economy. I saw so many examples of people sharing things, giving things away, praying for each other and staying up late or missing performers they wanted to see to sit and talk with people who just wanted to talk. I often find it difficult to imagine living in way that doesn't participate in the rat-race. I'm worried that if I don't "play the game" and try to get ahead then I will be left behind but the Wild Goose was full of people who were not trying to get ahead, but rather were trying to simply be together and live in an economy of abundance. It was a beautiful reminder that has awakened in the midst of my cynical soul a re-imagining of how to do life together.
2. re-membering the body
For a very long time the established church has been very good of silencing so many different voices. One of the things that Wild Goose does it re-members, re-includes and re-introduces people whose voices have been ignored. In the tradition I grew up in I never once heard a woman preach, or an African-American and definitely not a person who had a different sexual orientation than what I was taught was normal. People who were different than me were to be corrected and rebuked, I wasn't supposed to listen them and learn from them.
3. remembering the body
A few of my new friends and I were joking that we were rocking the unofficial Kid's Tent volunteer shirts. They are just like all the other volunteer shirts except by Sunday they were speckled with paint and mud and glitter. That's what happens when you hang out with a bunch of six to twelve years old all weekend. Following Jesus isn't merely an abstract, intellectual pursuit. It's something that you live. You do it with your hands and your feet, your ears and eyes, your strenght and your patience and you heart and your voice and even your wallet. It looks like high fives and piggy back rides and dancing in the kids tent. Elsewhere around the festival it looked like eating, hugging new friends, a friendly arm around your shoulder, picking up trash or directing traffic with your hands, parading through downtown with your feet and dancing with your whole body.
4. re-membering the body
This last idea of what re-membering the body would have likely never occurred to me if I had not recently listened to Krista Tippet interview Bessel van der Kolk on her public radio show, "On Being". They talked about his research in memory and trauma and how re-integrating our physical body can help restore a sense of goodness and safety in our lives. I highly recommend you go listen to the podcast to hear more about it, but for my purposes here I simply want to say how that podcast got me thinking. I started thinking about how the physical liturgy of the Wild Goose Festival not only re-integrates your physical body but in doing so brings about a new imagination, a new sense of community, a new awareness of the divine and a new sense of belonging.
Grace & Peace