Well, I'm still recovering, trying to get that last bit of ground in mud off my feet. We attended our third annual Wild Goose Festival (4 days of music, justice, spirituality, and art) last weekend, this time as presenters!
I really needed this festival, especially after an encounter I had the previous week. I had run into someone from a church we once attended. It was a very pleasant conversation, at first, as he filled me in on a number of things that had happened since we left. However, I realized it had taken a very bad turn when, while talking about a mission trip that had been cancelled, he said, "I really don't think it's a good idea for the youth to go to Jamaica, what with all the Muslims there." I tried to keep the shock off my face, but then he continued on with several comments about how he felt that colonialism was a good thing. (These are the kinds of conversations that makes a good girl like me want to cuss like a sailor.) Well, I couldn't take it any more so I kindly (without any ugly language) said "that's a very complex subject." At that, he couldn't get away from me fast enough with a "well, good seeing you, gotta run," etc. as he quickly fled the scene. Guess he likes his prejudices just as they are and doesn't want any facts spoiling them. Uggh.
The festival was held in Hot Springs, North Carolina, just outside of Asheville. It was 3 1/2 days packed with speakers and music, all geared towards people of faith who feel marginalized by the conservative mainstream church. We camped with some friends from home, although we didn't see them as much as we would have liked because they were volunteers at the event. We were also camped next to a lovely woman and her teen-aged daughter. This woman had a sad tale to tell. She had spoken up in support of marriage equality and, as a result, her church had stripped her of all leadership roles - this was a woman very committed to her church - and the pastor had even harassed her with emails trying to get her to change her mind. Her husband, who had no part in the discussion, was also asked to leave his position as church elder, probably because he didn't have his wife under "control." She was so glad to be at the festival for her second year where she could fellowship with like-minded people and "be in a safe place for dangerous conversations." We also connected with several people we knew from past festivals - it's like a family reunion where you only see certain relatives that one time each year but you're still glad to see them.
Bill and I spoke at a session on food and faith. Our segment was about the difference between industrial agriculture and family-owned farms. We had a good turnout for the event and there were three others who also gave food-related presentations. There was a Q&A session afterwards and a good bulk of the questions were directed at us. So glad to be able to spread the word about good, healthy food.
One of the highlights of the event was seeing the Indigo Girls on Saturday night. While I was only familiar with two of the songs, I really enjoyed the concert, especially from our almost-front row seats. And it seems no Wild Goose event is complete without seeing John Dear (the Jesuit priest, peace activist, and one of my heroes), so we sat in on his talk about lessons learned from Gandhi. The whole event was so inspirational and nourishing - it's hard to list it all in this post. Bottom line - it made it easier for us to return to our little corner of the Bible belt.
One unexpected benefit from the event was that Bill connected with one of the bands - David Wimbish and the Collection . It turns out they needed a retreat where they could rehearse songs for their latest CD. They posted on facebook that their original plans fell through. Since we're just over an hour away, Bill offered our farm house. They were thrilled to take us up on it and they've been here since Monday night. Two of the band members are a couple who sat in on our talk at the festival and had asked us some farming questions. They told us that they later discussed the possibility of visiting our farm - never imagining they would be here a few days later! She works on a farm and we plan to visit her, too. Last night the band invited us to sit in as they performed several of the songs they've been working on this week. As a result of this connection, a concert at the farm is in the works - stay tuned!
I've rambled on far too long and haven't scratched the surface of this past weekend. I'm sure I'll be posting more later.
Have a great weekend!