Last week I traveled with a few church folk to Hot Springs, North Carolina to attend participate fully in the Wild Goose Festival. Wild Goose Festival is a little bit something different for all who attend. It’s kinda like a Christian Woodstock. Or maybe like an adult church camp sans the cliques because everyone really does get along, and there’s no cliques (even at church camp). But mostly it’s just a place you can go, a complete stress free environment and simply just be yourself. A self you may never knew existed.

And also there’s all kinds of amazing speakers, musicians, artists, and gatherings.

I’ve heard an estimate of almost 2,000 people (mostly campers) came from near and far to be a part of the Wild Goose Festival.

I was in tow, in part, I’m sure because of my infectious ridiculously loud laugh and super fantastic personality. OR – because I can lift heavy things, and we were running a coffee tent that required said lifting of heavy things. That and I might have mentioned begged that I really wanted to go as a Darkwood Brew representative. So, I went.

I had more fun handing coffee to people, getting to know returning and fellow caffeine addicts aficionado, looking them in the eyes. Getting to know them, telling them about Darkwood Brew.  The Darkwood Brew Coffee tent was open from 7a.m. to 10 p.m.  Thanks to some beautiful volunteers, we were able to venture out and see Wild Goose Festival for ourselves. I got to see a few speakers I had on the top of my list. I even got to talk to a band member from a new favorite of mine, Run River North. I ran into people like Frank Schaeffer and Doug Pagitt who are kinda famous Christian dudes, and yet, eager to sit down and talk with me for a while. Those to guys each sat down and talked to me with no agenda, and kinda caught me off guard by taking a sincere interest in me. I got to watch my very own minister, Dr. Eric Elnes speak, and see him chat with other people so eager to put a face to a name.  I saw how lucky we are to have leaders like him at our church for the every day. The accessibility of the leaders of Emergent Christianity was amazing.

On occasion, in an effort to get off our feet for a while, we’d take the golf cart for a spin. We’d just drive around and offer a ride to someone who looked like they might need it.  And there was the beautiful pause when you could just stop and look around and see the free spirits dancing. I’d see the people I’d served coffee- all different ages, different lives, and slightly different beliefs, all dancing together to club beat music.

Then I got to a talk early, and the hymnal singing. I saw people I’ve kind of come to know in some way, just by handing them water or coffee. And they were there singing beautiful hymns together. It was fun to see their faces light up. To see which ones sang harmony. Or the ones you wouldn’t think would sing the loudest, singing the loudest and most beautifully. People videoing the group singing How Great Thou Art simply because they want to remember that moment.

I’m not much for hymns – I got the Spirit Award in choir if you know what I mean. But I joined in and sang anyway. I watched all these people who I’d just served coffee to and made some connection with. And it was truly awesome.

There’s just one catch on all of this wholesome goosey goodness – I had to leave my family for a week. Again, I defer to adult camp. Or maybe – mommy getaway camp. I’m in.

In all honesty planning a “good time” to leave my husband and kids to go frolick about the Good Word with joy and equality and sincerity is kinda like waiting until you have enough money saved up to have kids. It’s never gonna happen. I knew it, so I said yes as soon as Darkwood Brew asked me to go.

And quite frankly, my awesome husband and kids were just fine without me, but only for a week. It turns out somethings (Laundry) can wait for a week. When I called them, they were too busy functioning without me. I’d hang up missing them more than before I dialed the number.

I secretly walked around plotting to bring the entire family next year: “FAMILY CAMP!” It turns out, I was pretty homesick. But I made every effort to enjoy my time and opportunity at Wild Goose Festival. Meanwhile back at the ranch, I’m pretty sure my kids were taking full opportunity of Momma being gone at what is now affectionately referred to as “Goose Camp”. With no one to nag them incessantly, I just don’t know how they carried on. But they did manage.

And when me and my kids and my awesome husband all united, we were better for it. We were better for being apart, for the Wild Goose in all of us, and for now our parts back to a whole. And that is what Wild Goose Festival was for me – a bunch of really great intricate contributing parts coming together to make an awesome whole.


Leslie is a blogger for Darkwood Brew. She’s had her own blog for 8 years – Mom On The Rocks, chronicling the crazy moments of mommyhood. She also has a column in HerFamily, a local Omaha Magazine. When she’s not writing, she’s laughing and/or eating with her very tall family: husband, Chris, and twins, Max and Lucy.

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