A Reflection on the Wild Goose Festival

By Wesley Morris, Union Theological Seminary and Beloved Community Center, wild gooseGreensboro, NC

I saw two amazing black women Rev. Traci Blackmon and Bree Newsome share time and space yesterday at WGF. Their hug and exchange of words was a course in miracles itself. Cutting through Q and A’s to the grace that only they may know the height and depth of. I am grateful to have heard so many of the presenters and been in concert with the folks at Wild Goose this year. This was and is very important work, but this moment, this reunion of sorts is my lasting image of Christ’s love.

I think parts of me are still in the riverbed that spread itself between the stretches of 200 to 300 million year old stone giants sat on by green trees. I was there with dear friends and message carrying dragonflys.

On the ride to WGF I saw the kind of tragic wounds of racism involved when racism waves at you like an elected official governing their town. Then there was a groaning of a world stretching itself into happening and into being. I’m sitting here before night rest still digging through the memories that came to clarity and the silence that helped them to settle.

There are forces at work that would rather us not recite the words and image making ideas towards freedom, personal or communal. Forces that deny us storytelling. Storytelling is a power that is not owned by vice or virtue, it simply abides with those that speak. say a word and then say a few more and watch them, be a witness.

Cue the Lucille Clifton.

Lucille Clifton:
“Well, people who look like me didn’t have a whole lot of happy colonial days, you know. [Laughter] And I think that often times a lot of American memory, I think, is myth. It seems to me very important for someone who is interested in facing one’s true past and all of that which has gone into making this place, these people, and me–what I am now. It is very important to face what actually happened, not what we wish; we should not try to put a good spin on it, not to leave out stuff. At any rate, I wrote a poem which goes, “They ask me to remember, but they want me to remember their memories, and I keep on remembering mine.”

Being at WGF, A young black man at a gathering of largely white christians committed to finding their voices and more importantly their actions in these times seemed more than novelty, it was important. The first voice I heard upon arrival to the campgrounds was that of Dr. William Barber, a prophetic voice and moral convener standing in the gap for this rising generation. I floated through the scene and the unfamiliar became familiar as it generally does and time continued to have its way with me.

The book, “The Luminous Darkness” written by Howard Thurman, is on my mind and I am thinking, meditating. This book has a line on the difficulties faced by black and brown people and the successive programs that will be needed once the walls come down. “When the walls are down, it is then that the real work of building the healthy American society begins. The razing of the walls is prelude – important, critical, urgent, vital, but prelude nevertheless. About this there must be no mistake.” (pg.92)

The waters don’t lie. The mountains there know the grip of a dinosaur’s footprint and they do not lie. The bridges we built to get over around and through them may not hold fast to the test of time, but nature has not and will not lie and nature, history and spirit has caused us into animation yet again to reconcile the world unto itself.

God will not and has not lied. The blood will not and has not lied.

“it reaches to the highest mountain and flows to the lowest valley, the blood that gives me strength from day to day”

To God be the Glory for all of it.

Charles Rowell Interview with Lucille Clifton, Why some people be mad at me sometimes (1987)

Thurman, Howard. The Luminous Darkness: A Personal Interpretation of the Anatomy of Segregation and the Ground of Hope. New York: Harper & Row, 1965. Print.

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