Part revival, part music fest: ‘Wild Goose’ | National Catholic Reporter

Garreth Higgins

He calls it the Wild Goose Festival, and it will bring together many of the nation’s best-known, faith-based progressives for a long weekend gathering in a North Carolina field, just south of Chapel Hill.Wild Goose, the brainchild of Northern Irish national and peace activist Garreth Higgins, is part music festival, part religious revival and part be-in, to borrow a term from the 1960s. It opens Thursday and runs through Sunday.Higgins, 36, calls Wild Goose a “gathering of music, art and conversation at the intersection of justice and spirituality.”The festival Web site states:”The Wild Goose is a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit. We are followers of Jesus creating a festival of justice, spirituality, music and the arts. The festival is rooted in the Christian tradition and therefore open to all regardless of belief, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, denomination or religious affiliation.

via Part revival, part music fest: ‘Wild Goose’ | National Catholic Reporter.

This interfaith festival sounds like a blast! Its not focused on documents and declarations. Its only agenda is to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible. In this day of anger and negativity, it’s hope-filled optimism is refreshing. According to its web-site, Wild Goose has its roots in the U.K.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Greenbelt is an arts, music, justice and spirituality festival that’s been happening in the UK for nearly 40 years. It was birthed out of a desire to see people of faith embody their faith in more joyful, just, and connective ways throughout Europe. Through years of growth and change, Greenbelt remains a beacon of hope for the right-brained and left-behind in more conventional religion.

The usual format of conventions – including religious ones – is being ignored. More than 150 speakers and performers are attending, many at their own cost. Accommodations will be simple for all, camping is available. The format given to the presenters is to “give a 20-minute presentation about something that they don’t feel that they understand yet. The hope is that the audience will contribute a response to that question, and that really flips the hierarchy that usually happens at events.” This is so different from the usual convention format – find a well-known speaker, pay them handsomely, and sit back in awe while they pour forth their wisdom.

I hope that NCR will be sending reports from the Wild Goose festival. It sounds like a genuine attempt at honest, open, and respectful dialogue among women and men of faith…and all in a fun setting. God bless them!

sunday tourist

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa

My husband loves to attend new churches while on holidays. I do too…now. Things were much different when we travelled with five energetic children in tow. Sunday mass was enough of a challenge in the familiar surroundings of our home parish. In a new church, I couldn’t relax until I had mapped out a quick exit to the basement or the crying room. And, I definitely had to locate the washrooms for the quick dash with the potty trainer of the moment. A large church offered some anonymity. With our crew, it was hard to slip in to the pews of a small, half empty church without all eyes turning towards us.

On our recent trip to Ottawa, our friends arranged for us all to attend Sunday mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Notre Dame. Its beauty befits our capital city, and the grandeur contrasts to the simplicity of our rural church. The liturgy itself was a musical treat, thanks to the pipe organ and soaring voices of the cathedral choir. There was a nice balance between songs for the full congregation, and exquisite choral pieces to inspire moments of prayer. And when the organ belted out for all to sing, it was easy to raise your voice with no worries of sour notes. You were lifted up by the glorious sound, and could almost believe that you, too, sounded this good!

When on holidays, you don’t have to take a holiday from Sunday mass. For those who are actively involved in their home parish, being a tourist is an opportunity to sit back and enter into the worship space without the temporal worries of liturgical preparations. And if you really want a taste of the local color and culture of a place, enter into a church and join a community in prayer.

easter version of cohen`s hallelujah

YouTube – Kelley Mooney’s spiritual lyrical adaptation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

Inspiration, for me, is found in both the deep memories of traditional music and in contemporary interpretations. I love Handel`s Messiah and Vivaldi`s Requiem. And my husband and I have a holy week tradition. We sit down and watch Andrew Lloyd Webber`s Jesus Christ Superstar. Music offers an emotional experience of well known stories. It has the power to send the proverbial shivers down your spine and tears to your eyes.

Yesterday, I received an email forward from a friend with a link to a YouTube video by Kelley Mooney. Mooney is a young woman from Prince Edward Island in Canada. She received permission from Leonard Cohen to write new lyrics to his well-known Hallelujah. She does a brilliant job of melding the passion story with one of the most moving melodies of our times. And her voice, backed by an amazing girl`s choir, absolutely soars!

St. Augustine famously said, `one who sings prays twice`. This song is a powerful prayer for holy week.