Reporting on Wild Goose East 2012

Tom & I at the Mustard Seed/Overflow booth at Wild Goose

Tom & I at the Mustard Seed/Overflow booth at Wild Goose

Tom and I are back home after several wonderful days at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina. It was hot, humid and dusty but in spite of that we had a wonderful time. Tom was in fine form talking about intentional community and moving beyond the Western dream and I had fun speaking on reimagining how we pray.

Tom was in fine form

Tom was in fine form

More than anything we enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones. Had lots of good discussions, shared lots about the Mustard Seed Village and Cascadia and just thoroughly enjoyed a relaxed but provokative festival.

Together with fellow Australian Dave Andrews

Together with fellow Australian Dave Andrews

I also loved the grievance wall and the opportunity for people to share their frustrations with life & faith

Grievance wall Wild Goose festival

Grievance wall Wild Goose festival

What I didn’t enjoy – having to check for ticks every day and came home covered in itchy bites.

Uninvited guests

Uninvited guests

You can check out my complete festival album on facebook. enjoy

Still to come for the summer – Creative World Festival in Mission B.C. and Wild Goose West 


Its Winter But Spring IS Coming

A couple of days ago I wrote this post Weathering the Winter Storms – Lessons for the Soul. reflecting on what I have learned from the winter storms. I love the ways that God speaks to us through the seasons of the year. This post formed the foundations for the latest MSA Happenings which I thought you might appreciate.

The description of what happens in trees during winter has resonated in my soul this week as I feel MSA is in a waiting, strengthening season. It is as though God has set buds for next year’s growth and we desperately want to see them spring into life, but God is saying, not yet, wait for the lengthening of days and the warming of the air. In the mean time put down deeper roots and strengthen your framework. Allow your roots to grow down to the deep water you will need for the coming summer and enjoy the peace of a world at rest.

Roots Going Down Deep

Mustard Seed Associates is going through huge transitions at the moment. Our Seattle team is growing and soon we will begin to develop the Mustard Seed Village community. Our Board is also changing as we grapple with the new skills needed to grow us into the future. These transitions have encouraged us to revisit our MSA foundations, refresh our vision of God’s kingdom purposes.

We are at core a spiritual community

This has reaffirm our belief that we are at core a spiritual community that discerns and implements God’s will for our organization. We believe that everything we do should flow out of our involvement together as community. The kind of creativity and innovation we want to encourage, that enables us to create new ways to advance God’s kingdom purposes and engage tomorrow’s challenges, occurs best in and through community. Much of what I have learned is expressed in my recent blog series: Leading Spiritually

Tom is also blogging about community on the MSA website. As he stated in last week’s post I am deeply concerned that too many of us miss new possibilities for community because we don’t pay attention to “times like these.” Check it out here

Our garden community is putting down roots too and we invite you to be a part of it. Each Friday and the 3rd Saturday of each month will be community garden days. If you live in Seattle and would like to join us at the Mustard Seed House please let me know. Or contact us if you want us to start your lettuce, tomatoes, squash, basil or other vegetables. Proceeds from sales will go towards starting the Mustard Seed Village community garden.

There are other ways in which we hope to put down deeper community roots in the coming weeks too. We need to grow our circle of friends and supporters. If you know people anywhere in the world who are interested in sustainability, community or creativity that would resonate with the MSA message we would like to meet them.

We are a networking hub 

MSA also provides a networking hub for many expressions of faith and community, a place to share and cross pollinate ideas. We are working to strengthen this networking capacity. We will hold several small networking gatherings at the Mustard Seed House this year. Cindy Todd and Andrew Wade will man a Mustard Seed booth at the Justice Conference in Portland February 24 & 25 Tom and I will collaborate with the Parish Collective and the Seattle School for the Inhabit Conference.  April 20 & 21 and all of us hope to attend the Wild Goose Festival in South Carolina June 21 – 24.

Buds in Waiting

So what are the buds in waiting that will not emerge until the spring? First our initial cohort for the Pacific Sustainability semester has been delayed until January 2013. We still expect to bring our program director and  community facilitator on staff in July of this year. However this program will require the building of community networks and connections that need months of preparation. We are also still waiting for the final approval from colleges and universities that are potential recruiting grounds for students.

Second we have decided to delay the launch of our ezine Imagine That. We want to provide a tool that will help launch creativity and innovation in the MSA network as well as share examples of how God has already unleashed creativity in our midst. However we realize that with our current commitments, this would stretch our existing resources too thinly.

Building Resilience – Adding to the Team

We continue to grow the MSA team. We are currently looking for a volunteer with administrative skills to work as my assistant helping with research, writing and web communications.This position will provide an opportunity for the volunteer to assist in publishing articles, blog posts and possibly a book on spiritual practices. There will also be opportunity to assist in events and meet collaborators from around the world. If you are interested I would love to hear from you.

We also have a summer internship position available. Duties would include organizing, marketing and coordinating our annual Celtic retreat at the Mustard Seed Village site. If you or someone you know might be interested please contact us.

In our discernment time during our MSA team meeting this week we sensed that God is at work below the surface, getting ready to grow the seeds and preparing to bring new life to those waiting buds. We appreciate your prayers as we solidify our foundations and press forward to discern and implement God’s will for us as an organization.

The Wild Goose is definitely Wild

The July synchroblog with links to 48 posts on reflections of both the Wild Goose Festival and the Wild Goose as a symbol of the Holy Spirit is now complete.  Here are the links – make great reading for a summer’s day

Wild Goose – Encounters with a Thin Space

This post is part of the july synchroblog – an eclectic bunch of bloggers writing on the same topic.  This month is centered on the wild goose festival, a justice-arts-spirituality festival held the last week of june in North Carolina.  This synchroblog will include stories from the gathering as well as from those who couldn’t go, centered on what the wild goose (the celtic image of the Holy Spirit) is stirring up for us.  The links so far are at the bottom of this post, with more to come as they get posted.  I love opportunities like this to reflect and think together about faith and the people we journey with.

Flight of the Wild Goose

The Wild Goose festival in North Carolina heralded what I hope will be a new phase in Christian festivals.  It opened a thin space into the kingdom of God.  The concept of thin places is one that is well established in Celtic tradition.  These are places or spaces where the veil between heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to sense the glory of God.  All of us encounter such places in our faith journey and for me the Wild Goose festival was one such place.   There really was a sense of the sacredness of life and faith that pervaded the site in spite of the heat and the dust.

All of us need thin spaces in our lives where we experience the nearness of God.  They could be actual places but are more often events like this where the veil between heaven and earth seems to be opened for a brief time.  They can even come to us in verses of scripture, memories, songs, or practices that you find especially meaningful.  The Wild Goose festival seemed to open up all of these for me.  There were songs I listened to, sacred practices I participated in and people I spoke to through whom the presence of God seemed to shine in vibrant colours.

The burning bush

For most of us I think that the specialness of the festival lay not in who spoke or performed but in what conversations we held and how we interacted with fellow travellers on the journey of faith.  There were plenty of opportunities to enjoy food, have fun and enjoy life together.  I didn’t go down the water slide but I was tempted – maybe that too would have opened another type of thin space for me.

Prayers at the burning bush

There was an openness to the spirit that I must confess I have rarely experienced before in my many years of attending and speaking at events like this.  The holy spirit really did seem to hover over the festival Festivals like this are so important because they allow all of us to voice not just our beliefs and hopes but also our doubts and insecurities.   Providing an environment in which we can question faith, God and our fellow travellers is so necessary yet so rare.  Usually we are encouraged to sign on the dotted line and pretend that we accept without question all that is being served up to us.

Following the festival I wrote this prayer part of which I know I have already shared but I thought it seemed an appropriate way to end here:

God’s light shines in unexpected places
Where the veil between earth and heaven has thinned
We have seen it in the face of friend and stranger
We have seen it in the midst of darkness and light
We have heard it in the memories and song
We have heard it in the laughter and fun
May it make the spirit soar within you and take flight
May it guide you through the day and lead you through the night
May it shine for all to see and give us light

Here is the complete list of posts.

The Wild Goose Has Flown

Tom & I and Cindy Todd have just returned from the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina.  The weather was hot, humid and dusty but any discomfort was quickly outstripped by the joy of the festival.  In some ways it was like a great homecoming of friends and family that we have not seen for a long time.  Mark and Robyn Pierson from New Zealand, Doug Pagitt, Mark Scandrette, Tony & Peggy Campolo, Brian McLaren, Geoff and Sherry Maddock to name just a few.  But it was also a great opportunity to make new friends some like Mike and Julie Clawsen that I have wanted to meet forever.  Others who just happened by the Mustard Seed booth and soon became staunch friends.

It was also a great opportunity to  listen to new viewpoints, grapple with new perspectives and learn new approaches to worship, social justice and theology.  I can’t remember the last time my head was so abuzz after a conference and I know that there will be a lot more reflections to come over the next few days.

More photos here

Upcoming Events from the Transform Network

Three exciting events — and important deadlines — to update you on.  Tom and I will both be at the Wild Goose festival and the Inhabit Conference.

1) Tonight at midnight is the deadline to get reduced rate tickets to the inaugural Wild Goose Festival gathering — June 23-26 at Shakori Hills outside of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina! This event has been in the works for years, and a lot of TransFORM Network folks are planning to be there. There will be startling speakers, fantastic music, and great activities for people of all ages. The over-arching themes of Wild Goose are Art, Justice, and Spirituality, and this gathering will have all three of these things presented in a wonderful way. Please don’t miss it!

2) This Sunday (March 27) is the deadline to get the reduced individual or group rate registration for Inhabit Conference — April 29-30 at Mars Hill Graduate School in Seattle, Washington. Inhabit is not just any conference, it’s the West Coast gathering of the TransFORM and Parish Collective tribes — and it’s going to be phenomenal! If you’re looking for help in forming a new missional community and new friends to join you on the journey, then please do not miss Inhabit Conference — especially if you live on the West Coast.

3) East Coast and especially Northeast folks, don’t forget to RSVP for the TransFORM Northeast Regional Mini-Gathering, taking place the same weekend as Inhabit Conference, featuring great conversations among missional practitioners. This gathering is free, but you do need to RSVP to let the organizers know you are coming.

Hope to see you at one of these gatherings!

Steve Knight
TransFORM Network Community Architect