Each week we’ll be hosting a guest post by Wild Goose friends writing about what they’re looking forward to in the first year of the festival. First off, Bowie Snodgrass, Executive Director of Faith House Manhattan, who we’re glad to have on board helping to co-ordinate conversations on inter-faith questions at Wild Goose. The Christian tradition that gives birth to the Wild Goose Festival hasn’t always been strongest at relating peaceably and with respect among people of different faiths; part of our vision for Wild Goose is that we would explore together how conversations among people from different faith backgrounds can help contribute to peace and the common good. Wild Goose exists at the space where justice, spirituality, and art interact: a post about inter-faith dialogue, Celtic pilgrimages, and a David Bowie cover version seems like an ideal place from which to continue the conversation…
Let me fly away with you
For my love is like the wind
And wild is the wind
~ from “Wild is the Wind,” covered by David Bowie on Station to Station
The Holy Spirit led me into ecumenical and later interfaith work through a Wild Goose chase that started in 1997, during a college year at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Studying Roman Catholic theology, medieval women, the Russian language, and Orthodox Christianity gave me ecumenical perspective on the roots of my own Episcopal tradition. Outside the classroom, I witnessed secularization in Dublin and the scars of religious violence in Belfast. My father and I went on a Celtic pilgrimage, visiting Glendalough, Ninian’s Cave, the Isle of Lindisfarne, Bede’s Jarrow, and Durham Cathedral (built with stones from Hadrian’s Wall). My dad was called by the Goose to start a retreat center where the Spirit could be encountered in nature’s thin places. Less than a decade later, he and my step-mother moved to Aibonito, Puerto Rico to start Centro Espiritu Santo.
I first heard squawks about the Emerging Church in 2003, while working at the Episcopal Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. In 2006, my friend Isaac Everett asked me to co-found an emerging church. We were encouraged by many people, including Ian Mobsby, founder of the Moot Community in London, who invited us to Greenbelt. We launched Transmission in the New Forms Café at Greenbelt 2006, which felt like three-days in heaven.
The following summer, I was asked to be part of a group trying to start a North American Greenbelt. The weekend before I attended a planning retreat, my life took a wildly unexpected turn, when my now-husband proposed. That summer, the Wild Goose also called me to leave my job at the Episcopal Church’s national office to do innovative, grassroots ministry. I found the courage to flap my wings, fly out of my safe nest, and found the perfect position, working with Samir Selmanovic to launch Faith House Manhattan, an interfaith community whose motto is “experience your neighbor’s faith.” This position has stretched me beyond ecumenical, Episcopal or “emerging” into interfaith.
Phyllis Tickle‘s book The Great Emergence proposes that “the two overarching, but complementary questions of the Great Emergence are: (1) What is human consciousness and/or the humanness of the human? and (2) What is the relation of all religions to one another—or, put another way, how can we live responsibly as devout and faithful adherents of one religion in a world of many religions?”
This is a time of religious transition in the United States, when conversations among people of different faith traditions are not only possible, but necessary if we are to learn to live with each other in mutual respect. Faith House will be hosting wild geese from other religions so that the raucous gaggle there can “experience our neighbor’s faith” during three days that promise to show us new paths forward.
I believe faith is born of experience. Leaps often land us where God wants and small flaps can create waves we could not have foreseen. Loud squawks chase us in new directions and sometimes we step out and ask God to point our wings where the spirit blows, knowing that wild is the wind.
Today, I sit on the brink of another personal transition, as my husband and I await a baby due this September 11th. We plan to bring our own little gosling to the Wild Goose Festival next summer.
Bowie Snodgrass and Samir Selmanovic of Faith House Manhattan are coordinating the interfaith programming for the Wild Goose Festival, June 23rd-26th, 2011. You can keep up with the Festival on Facebook and Twitter.