How to Take Wild Goose Into the World
By Dr. Sharon L. Miller
The Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, NC was a picture of contrasts: Sudanese Emmanuel Jal’s frenetic music and dance before an older, mostly white, sedentary audience; “I Come to the Garden Alone,” sung at an Episcopal worship service, echoed as a backdrop to Melani Jackson’s spirited singing on the main stage; and prominent African Americans such as Jacquie Lewis, Jen Bailey, Chika Alston and Carleton Johnson urged a white audience to action.
We awoke on Friday to the news of the shooting in Dallas and we needed to gather, we needed to try and make sense of this world that had turned topsy-turvy. A town-hall meeting was held and events of the last week were recounted, prayers were said and blessings given to black leaders involved in the fight for justice. We were surrounded by love, and the support and affirmations of other ‘Wild Goosers’, who abhor violence and long for peace.
As the Indigo Girls sang on the final evening of the Festival, three young children, each with a glow stick halo sitting atop their heads, made their way down the row of adults in front of me. Without saying a word, these three angels reached over and hugged each person before moving on to the next surprised and startled adult. People’s joy and delight spread like a flame in the children’s wake.
I sometimes worry though about the danger in gatherings such as Wild Goose — the danger that we may leave on Sunday evening, filled with love and good will, and congratulate ourselves for our liberal sympathies and righteous anger. But do we take action in the fight for justice?
How can good people such as those who attend Wild Goose make a difference in the fight for racial justice; how can they concretely support the work of Black Lives Matter? I suspect for many, the options appear to be limited: Write a letter to your representative/mayor/governor; befriend a person of color; or be arrested in the streets. We need a primer, a ladder of engagement which allows for varying levels of commitment and cost, which moves people from the simple acts of writing letters and signing petitions, to active involvement with Blacks and Latinos within their communities, to marching in the streets.
I am grateful for Wild Goose, and the individuals who work tirelessly to see that it continues each year, for events such as this remind me that I am not alone in my longing for a world where we can truly see, accept and love each other. It is only successful though if we take what we have learned and experienced back into the world and work for a day when Black lives Matter and all God’s children know they are loved.
Dr. Sharon L. Miller is Director of Research and The Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Seminary. Which Voices leave you wanting to hear more? Email us ideas for interviews at [email protected]