It was 3:51pm on Thursday when Jess and I pulled up to Hot Springs, NC and checked in for Wild Goose Festival 2014. With only nine minutes before the campground was closed to cars, we haphazardly threw our stuff on a patch of empty, flat, wooded ground before I took off to park the car.Camping is unique at Wild Goose. There are several thousand people camping in the midst of performances stages, tents, and vendors. It is one big conglomerate beautiful mess of people and temporary structures. It didn't take long for our simple campsite to take shape. And it certainly didn't take long for a daddy long legs to take up residence on the top of our tent.... I named him Larry.
We quickly settled in, meeting our "neighbors", mainly the guys who had set up in front of us closer to the main road through camp. Paul, Barclay, and Howard, from Kansas City, who work with a child sponsorship program called Unbound. They easily shifted through hard questions of ministry and life to laughing and sharing stories. Their supply of instant coffee was a blessing in and of itself (HOW DID I NOT THINK THROUGH THE COFFEE SITUATION?!???!) and we often found ourselves comfortably perched under their pop up canopy enjoying conversation and music. By Friday we had met Bob, a Lutheran pastor from central Pennsylvania who occupied the next tent over....our cluster of tents became an instant little family.
Both of my "sets" were Friday, which didn't leave much concentration to sit through talks. Having found an electrical outlet by the bathrooms, I made many a friend as I curled my hair or pinned it up, valid attempts at battling the sweat, humidity, and heat. Good times. One morning when the dampness in my hair caused some steam, a little boy yelled, "Your hair is on fire!".... I became a source of entertainment. :o)
I played the singer-songwriter showcase first, at the Iron Horse Station, a restaurant right outside of the camp. It was a bit odd, as I was more background noise while people ate their lunches, but still good to share. My second set was at the Chapel, a tent located near the river, being curated by the Forum for Theological Exploration. I shared my stories and songs and in the middle, we celebrated the Eucharist,(Communion) before I sang some more. My four dear and precious neighbors came and it felt like my own family had shown up to support... oh the little things!!
The remainder of our time at Wild Goose involved a LOT of rain, little sleep, fear of train derailment behind our tent, random conversations, ukulele ditties, and the occasional secondhand recreational drug. I knew I had reached my end point when I was sitting beneath the canopy, trying to keep my guitar dry, and yelling "I HATE CAMPING!!!" Poor Bob, he was around me at several low points throughout the day.... :o) The good news is that if you are awake at 5:45 am... the water at the showers is incredibly hot! My 20 year old self was very excited to see Jars of Clay play Saturday night.... but it turns out they have done several albums since I last listened to them.... didn't stop me from yelling every word of "Flood" when they eventually got around to playing it!!
It's strange, but as beautiful as the gathering of Wild Goose is, I feel like I missed something. Maybe it was the overuse of the words "broken" or "inclusive" or maybe it is as simple as many of the topics didn't speak to where I personally am today. Jesus didn't come up very much, but words like "creator" and "divine presence" did. I may be one of the only ones who experienced some slight disconnect, but I celebrate my new friends who found a place where their hearts were met and heard.
And speaking of friends..... YOBEL MARKET was there!!! These ladies are so dear to me, remnants of the Colorado Springs community that I still love so dearly. We spent much of Saturday afternoon catching up on their ministry plans, on my singer-songwriting, on life, love, and everything in between!!
Many, many thanks to my friend Jessica Becker. For traveling out to Virginia, making the drive down to the mountains, to existing in a tent eating only hummus, hard boiled eggs, and watermelon until we finally had a chance for a full meal Saturday night (high five!). I am thankful for your courageous and adventurous spirit.
And I may or may not have met a kindred heart in the deep soul searching eyes of Barclay Martin, our neighbor and singer-songwriter from Kansas City, who has a kind and generous spirit and a contagious laugh. He's on his way to Madagascar.... one of those world saving musicians..... good looking to boot.
That wraps up our Goose adventure in North Carolina. I'm excited to be venturing into the world of vlogs.... learning about video editing and the like. We did stay in a haunted hotel on our way back to Virginia Sunday night..... that video will be coming early next week....