I traveled east this past week to attend the Wild Goose Festival. I had heard about the Goose some time ago, and knew I wanted to be there for this first-time event. I coerced (gently) my best friend from college to go with me. I picked her up in Nashville, and we had a good time laughing and talking all the way to North Carolina. I was longing for something...a connection to something bigger. A renewal of hope and of love. The schedule was jam-packed with all sorts of folks I have read about, friended on Facebook and admired from a distance. Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, Ashley Cleveland and the list goes on and on.
I must confess something. I have a minor crush on Peter Rollins. It may be the Irish accent or the fact that he gestures even more than I do when he talks - or that he's brilliant...I'm not sure. Regardless, one of the things I looked forward to was listening to some new ideas of his that he was going to present at the Wild Goose.
My second confession...I also have a thing for Jay Bakker. I came upon his first book some six months ago, and have followed his sermon-writing and second book closely. For entirely different reasons, I like Jay. He's the adorable bad boy with the tattoos and loud music. He seems to wear his broken heart on his sleeve. He and Peter and I are members of the same generation. One man appeals to my emotions - my desire for grace above all. The other appeals to my thoughts - and challenges my ways of looking at faith, doubt and the complexity of both.
The weekend was fun - it was good to listen to voices I've heard and read before - like Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shane Claiborne, Becca Stevens and Richard Rohr. It was maybe even more fun to meet new voices that I had not heard before like Ian Cron (what a fantastic storyteller!) and Karyn Wiseman (she's a smart cookie).
Ultimately though, I awaited the talks/sermons/ruminations of...Pete and Jay. I had already heard Pete speak in Springfield, Missouri in an academic setting back in October. I've listened to some of Jay's sermons online, but I had never seen Jay in person or heard him speak.
Ultimately I can only say this about my experience with my favorites. For as different as these two fellows may be in their approaches to speaking...they represent the best of emergent church, faith, grace and life for me. Pete is my inner mind talking - things are not always as they seem - or perhaps they are...but they may not exist at all. Jay is my heart speaking what I only dare hope at times -that there is a love and grace big enough to hold me and ultimately us all.
I'm so grateful to have been there for the first of what I hope will be many more Wild Goose Festivals. And I hope that the message that I received is the same one that gets communicated year after year, decade upon decade to each new generation of geese lovers - God loves us with a ferocity that seems impossible and that we in turn are able to love one another and our world with a wild and mystical love.