Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I saw the Light (at the port-a-potties)

©Copyright2013 Scott Griessel/Creatista
Less than a week ago I stood not 10 feet from Amy Ray as she shred the mandolin and belted, "Let It Ring!"  She and her musical partner Emily (also known as The Indigo Girls) had all of us at The Wild Goose giddy with excitement.  But as I watched them play, something else became clear.  They weren't just a gift to us - we were a gift to them. Their faces, especially Amy's ... she could hardly sing, for smiling!  It was like she was in ... HEAVEN. They'd barely start a song - just a chord, even - and we'd all join in, drowning them in sound as we sang along joyfully and passionately.  Maybe that happens at all their concerts, I don't know, but it sure felt like something special and it shown in their eyes.  Both of them thanked us between every song, complimenting us, pouring out gratitude for all the great work all of us do and how much they appreciate the causes we stand for.  Best of all, they said they can't wait to come back - back to the Goose! This, after waiting through an hour long rain/lightening delay and walking through ankle deep mud just to get on stage?

©Copyright2013 Scott Griessel/Creatista
Something got to them.  It's the same thing that's gotten to so many of us geese.  It's why we never stop talking about it and writing about it and why we drive everyone completely INSANE this time every year.

It's not this famous author or that famous activist or historian or musician... Sure, we geek out about those people (I got my picture taken with Krista Tippett!) but it's not that.  It never was. If you think it's that, and what I'm saying makes you roll your eyes, read this - he says it better than I can.  It's the people.  The warmth and light of the people draw you in like the best campfire.  It's the one-another.

©Copyright2013 Scott Griessel/Creatista
The Light of the Goose is the people.  The children who play in the mud and the gray haired folks who push walkers through the mud and everyone in between.  As I look back over the past 3 summers and reflect on how my experiences of the Goose have changed me - quite literally changed how I do life -  I can pinpoint one constant:  the Light I've encountered in others' eyes and in their stories.

I only attended the first Wild Goose for a day.  I said, at the time, it was because of other commitments and what not, but the truth of the matter is I was scared.  Voices warned me I'd be led astray, and I was still giving those voices power in my life.  Yet, as I drove out to Pittsboro with my son, the excitement and anticipation built until I practically bounced out of the car. I'd promised him friends, so we were looking for the one family I knew were there, when it happened.  We now refer to it as The Synod of the Port-a-Potties:  Bill came from one direction, Meredith came from another, I from a third.  We all converged on the port-a-potties at the same time, and the rest literally is history.  This is only a sampling of the people who camped together, ate and talked together, at this year's Goose - and it all started because two summers ago three of us had to use the bathroom at the same time.

But it's not just the people I know - it's the people I meet.  At that first festival I was converted by a man I'd never met and will likely never see again.  I came home and made real, tangible changes in my life because the Light in him solidified something in me I'd been waffling over for too long.  I made friends at last year's morning prayer that I stay in touch with to this day (thank you, facebook) and who I couldn't wait to see again this year - one couple has a farm in Virginia, another work at a college in Tennessee.  These people impact me.

Even the speakers have an impact far beyond what they do from the stage.  I walked down a gravel road with Frank Schaeffer last year, and that conversation meant something to me.  This year I caught his eye and said, "You don't remember me, but-"

"I do indeed remember you!" he interjected. "We had a great talk! How are your kids?"

It's not that he's famous and that I grew up reading his dad - it's that he saw and heard me, and I him.  I heard a talk on Post-Cynicism from Ian Cron last year that plucked the very strings of my soul, but those vibrations lasted because I heard it with a friend. I know that if I start spiraling out, she'll look at me and say, "Remember what Ian said:  you're not enlightened, you're just being a jackass!"  Even the Rev. Dr. William Barber, who I never got a chance to speak with personally, healed something inside me. He spoke this year about dry  bones - well, last year I was dry bones.  I was.  As he preached the Spirit blew on me and I literally made my way from the sidelines to a seat front and center with my friends.  The last thing I wanted was to hear a man in a suit preach a sermon - I didn't think there was anything in that for me, ever again.

I was wrong.


What reflects back at me through the eyes of these people prevents me from even considering that They were right.  They warned me, back then - they did!  They said I was indeed on a wild goose chase, one that would lead me far from the path of truth.  They told me this was nothing new, just a bunch of liberal hippies dressing old ideas up in new packaging.  They told me the Spirit wasn't in it and that I was caught up in the emotion of something that felt fresh to me and, honestly, who doesn't like to have a mid-life crisis now and then, go off on some crazy tangent?  They literally told me that it was okay to walk to the edge of the cliff and peek over, but to be careful lest I fall off and take others with me.

When I look into the eyes of an 80 year old who marched for civil rights with Dr. King, I know.
When I look into the eyes of a man who explains to me that his liberal religious upbringing (polar opposite of mine) left him wandering and that he didn't know what he was looking for but he was finding it at the Goose (just as I am), I know.
When I look into the eyes of my friend by the campfire, as she tells me that the author she just heard talked with her afterward about their shared pain, and that this connection was literally healing her broken heart, I know.
When I put my arms around my kids and we talk together about what the day meant to them, I know.
When I pray with a stranger, and hear the same sentiments come out of her mouth that I've been feeling for days but couldn't put words to, I know.

They. Were. Wrong.

But they were right, too. Because I didn't stay on the edge of the cliff.  I didn't stay safe. But I didn't fall ... No.  

I took a flying leap. 

(I've read in a book somewhere, something about soaring like eagles  - maybe you've heard the phrase? ... Yeah, it's kinda like that)

I know Light when I see it.  So, for me, the annual Wild Goose is like a pilgrimage.  I literally plan my calendar around it.  Because I'm a Light junkie.  I just can't stay away.

See you at the port-a-potties.

1 comment:

  1. This post warms my heart. :)
    So glad you're blogging again.

    I never get tired of reading about how important the Goose is to so many of us.

    We're blessed to have met you. :)