A Weekend At Wild Goose

  (Photo: Courtesy of Scott Griessel)

 (Photo: Courtesy of Scott Griessel)

A Weekend At Wild Goose
by Ryan Brown

Each year, Hot Springs, NC plays host to a collection of activists, justice-seekers, artists, clergy and regular individuals seeking equality for all people. The Hot Springs Campground transforms to become a safe-haven for the spiritually hungry, the bruised, the broken and the displaced. It is a place to be healed, to learn, to be re-ignited with passion, and above all things, share a message of love, peace, and equality for all.

While this was my first time attending Wild Goose Festival (aka “the Goose”), I very quickly got the sense that individuals from many different walks of life would be gathering here for the next few days to enjoy the festivities. The diversity of individuals attending this festival gave me a sense of what life in the early church may have felt like. Many people were meeting other individuals and groups for the first time, getting to know each other and their families. I also saw many folks sharing resources and helping each other set up camps for those around them. It was very obvious that acceptance and inclusivity are two of the most important aspects of this yearly gathering. 

What I experienced, however, went beyond including and accepting people. There was a genuine sense that the people here truly wanted to get to know each and every person. I quickly realized that Wild Goose provides more than spiritual healing, in fact, the festival is also a place to wrestle with tough questions and to seek answers from a community of like-minded individuals. The interactions with so many unique individuals will always be a fond memory of my first time attending “the Goose”. 

Sunday morning was one of the most memorable moments for me as Rev. William Barber addressed the crowd sharing the importance of standing together to move the tides of justice in favor of the marginalized. He continued on in his message providing inspiration on the importance of working together to win the little battles against injustice, while on the way to winning the war over systematic injustice. 

Another favorite memory included a workshop I attended which addressed difficult topics such as gentrification, bullying, parental misguidance and spiritual trauma. During this workshop, small groups were asked to create “living sculptures” depicting those topics. To create our sculpture, we had to use our bodies requiring the individuals to get very close to one another. It was as if we were practicing the message given by Rev. Barber in working together to address difficult topics.

Overall, my first experience of Wild Goose festival left me feeling inspired and ready to get to work. While there are a number of issues facing our nation and world, the attendees of Wild Goose are willing and able to work together to obtain equality. The voices represented each year are loud, proud, and most are not afraid to speak out. Each person is willing and able to stand in the margins for those who need it most. I am thankful for the opportunity to stand with them in solidarity for the marginalized.