We finally arrived to the hostel around 11. Hugs came from Pat, and Katie Jo. Later Kim, Bex, Julie, and Adele came over. Wine poured freely and Pat and I sat sober drinking our Dr. Pepper and talking about the year. It was good to be around friends. We missed Pastor Nar, and all of our other emergenty outlaw types everywhere. The communal cry seemed to be healing, healing.
I needed healing. Healing from being kicked out of the Assemblies of God, even if it was a kind goodbye, it left wounds in my heart. Healing from hearing Pastor Dave say I couldn’t minister in the prayer line with my beliefs, healing from feeling rejection from the my Assembly of God friends for loving gays and postmoderns. And mostly healing from those ripped relationships. I asked God to heal me weeks ago from all the church hurt. I did not want to be bitter. I just wanted to love them.
I went to bed, and left Terry to be an extrovert. I wasn’t very kind or hospitable to Susan or Stephanie, but I told them to sleep in the Van, as I found my bed and collapsed.
Friday morning arrived, I was ready to roll. Unfortunately those who came with us weren’t quite ready to go. Understandable, it was a hell of a Thursday. I made my way to the main stage, with hugs and mini-convos from friends everywhere. Hugh grabbed me, and I got a hug from Renee at the Love Wins Tent. Hugh helped me process a lot in 2011. He is a saint among ministers. There were more quick hugs, and mini detours, seeing Andrew William Smith, Morgan Guyton, and Mike Wood for starters. I arrived at the main stage to hear the end of Vincent Harding and Phyllis Tickle’s talk. Adele and Kim D sat near me. I stayed for part of the session on racism and met some saints and sinners from Idaho, Michigan, and California. I then drifted up towards the Performance Café to hear Troy. I remember filming some of it for Josey. I also remember feeling the power of corporate worship. I held my recovering Pentecostal hands in the air for a moment. Then I cried. A hug from Melvin, a quick hug from Kelly. And I asked God again on day 39, if I could be healed. We had no cell service, which was AWESOME. I had time to rest in each moment- each moment and listen to the Holy Spirit, or the wild goose. Friday was a day of tears for me. Maybe because Thursday seemed to slam on the brakes of my heart, emotions, and nerves. I wandered around meeting seniors on motorized wheel chairs and sipping on apple pie moon shine made by some friends who were Church of Christ tattooed saints. I escaped the rain, and held a child. And my tears poured down in the port-a-potty.
Sexuality and the Sacred, made me tear up. I cried for the community in regards to touch. I listened to Mark and Lisa talk about money and made my way to purchase a book. I ate Michael’s hot sauce, and heard his poems inside of air conditioned peace. The lettuce wrapped around the barbeque, and Wake locked us in an out of the community center while Troy shared on the creative from his book “Drawn In”. Asher talked about Trans issues and raised our awareness. My heart broke down in sadness for the 10 beds available in the Atlanta community for my Trans neighbors who had no housing. Rick and Bob came over to me, pastors of the MCC, and we chatted for a while. It was great to meet Bri and Joan who serve as Harriet Tubman’s of LGBT children in conservative schools. I had not argued with Terry for almost 24 hours. I walked to Kimberly’s camp to celebrate Rebekah’s birthday. The apple pie moonshine warmed my soul. I think I got really loud about breaking down some Bible, ‘cause Betsy asked me about some random bible verse. I love to talk about the Bible. I know folks who have been deeply hurt by it, but for me it speaks to liberation. And I love to dig out its treasure. I drank half the mason jar of moonshine and Terry escorted me to the hostel.
I tried to pick a fight with Terry about something, but he didn’t let my control freak get the best of him. He held me and we slept. The next morning he crept out and walked, so as not to disturb Stephanie. I felt a headache and some explosive bubbly gut syndrome, but not enough to stop me from moving. I prayed again. I realized that my 40 days was up. Maybe, just maybe God would speak again. I rambled around, jangling, finding a couple of muddy saints on the path. I was tired of talking, I just wanted to listen. I had a piece of cheese from the DarkWood Brew tent, and plopped down to hear the “Pace e Bene” session on The Power of Gospel Non-Violence to Change Our Lives. Working in homelessness advocacy and education, and pastoring at Church of the Misfits, I felt I could totally learn from this. My butt hit the seat, and suddenly all the violence in my heart came up. The violence I give to terry, the anger and hurt I felt towards the Church, the brokenness in my own family. But I was there to hear about ending war, poverty, destruction of the earth, banning drones, and racism. Or so I thought. David sat beside me. We had never met. And then Noelle and Tim. We sat down together and began to practice the embodiment of conflict resolution. I listened intently to the lecture noting how the Gospel could be used in my own context and life, and then it became time to practice. After several times of acting out scenarios, I bumped into Tim. The instructors told us to stare into each other’s eyes, and try to hear the voice of the other. I centered myself, and tried to center on Tim. I felt like I needed to place my hands on his heart. He then held me, and he told me he saw my pain. It was good, and weird, and Pentecostal without all the baggage. Something inside started to break. My strange gift of the spirit begins to show up. Those images in my head and prayers formed between the tears. I cried and cried and cried. I met Noelle and saw her as beautiful. Gray haired open tender eyed episcopal. She hugged me and I felt warmed in my neck. My neck that has felt pain so deeply. I felt warmth push through my chest. I hugged her, and moved on. I sat still after others left.
Melissa Greene offered a mike check. I prayed. The keys began, the music pumped, my head fell heavy in my palms. The tears would not stop, would not relent. I walked through the paths and near the river. Hugging Kimberly, Kim, and Kim. I smiled at Betsy, Kristen, Liz, and Danielle. The Spirit asked me to search out the one who seemed ignored. I found her, bent down, and asked her for a story and a prayer.
I wandered off again to introduce Brian at the community center. I met Koinonia Farm workers, and stuffed my face with fair trade chocolate. I listened about the “Cotton Patch Gospel” and the work Brian would be doing with “the Life of Christ.” I wandered around again. Eating with Holly and her sister, trying to listen to the interfaith conversation. Jeff gave me a hug with his “Humanist” shirt, and I bumped into David Gladstone. We sat and ate and drank, and Karen came over. Karen had attended “Lee” but was not at Candler, and was planting in Athens. I listened to her story and knew she was an amazing woman. We meandered down to the children’s tent, where Morgan connected with us. Morgan and I sat off to walk the river. Morgan recounted his story, and his amazing revelation of scripture. If you don’t know Morgan Guyton, you should. I filmed part of his exegesis that blew my mind away, only to realize later that it wasn’t saved. We talked about finding God in the despised ones.
We said goodbye, and I made my way up to Paul’s talk on bodies and prayer. When his talk was over, I lunged up front so I could hear Julie. Julie spoke about fifty shades of gray, hope, and how women’s liberation still needed to take place. She gave me the freedom to be girly, smart, and bold. Her humble conversation opened up space for male leaders to rethink the pop culture book and its space in allowing others to explore freedom. After her talk, I circled up with Kim D and Mike C for a bit, then encountered Shawna from Chicago and Freddy Bell. I felt renewed and healed.
At Milieu café, I received a healing massage from Caroline, and then listened to an artist talk about starting an art center in Boston. Later, I went to the Indigo girls, and bumped into Brian Mclaren. We talked about Southeastern University and my favorite professors, and AGTS. He use to get invites from the school, but it became unsafe for them after a while. He was gracious, and I thanked him for his work “a Generous Orthodoxy” that helped me navigate things early in my journey as a young Assembly of God student. The Indigo Girls sang beautifully and loudly, and I danced while smoking a borrowed cigarette from a hippy from Hot Springs.
The dance party gave me freedom to move, and Pat dressed like a monk, talked to Carol Curry, the Jesus woman who loves the homeless. I lifted my hands and felt free from the bitterness. Free enough to love the Church. God asked me to Love her, and to Love myself. I was the church.
We gathered at Bex house for Saturday Night hurrah, splashing in the hot tub, and asking Mike Morrell how he was such a peaceful man. I had more questions for Mike, but it was 3 am, and we had a long drive Sunday. Terry and I lay in each other’s arms sharing deep intimacy that morning. Then we awoke, late, to clean the hostel room, pack, and hear a few others talks before getting in the Van.
I was tired and a bit inpatient. The Van ride home was miserable, as I returned to gripping at Terry. But the experience at the Goose was so healing. I have so many friends who need to be there next year. My 40 days was up. God had spoken. I was to practice more self-care- and give some things up,
Back to busy we go, my control freak freaking out. Did you do this? Did I do that? The enamel on my teeth and the crushed vertebrae give out. Yeah I cuss, scream, and violence attacks the air we share! Give me rest, food from the ground, massages, and centering prayer. Save me from my leader self and my fear of intimacy drag me to the church house so I can bow on one knee. Hoping the broken babies FIND therapists, get jobs, move out of the parent’s houses- be independent and radiant. May the children on the road we see quit that meth, write a song, get some marital counseling, plant a tree and move along
From depression and screwed up to healthy front porch swinging. I am too busy to be there for you because I am too busy being there for everyone but me. But o know you got divine written on your heart so let it be. Share the story when we aren’t bleeding- after it’s healed up. Speaking from scars sounds sweet on our ears; the screams from our wounds stop us from listening. We can give you 15 minutes and that’s all we have. But I saw Jesus in you.
And the Wild Goose ministered to my wounded heart.-