She Kept Her Faith

WG_Logo_Final_Rainbow_SecondarySeveral weeks ago I volunteered at the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina. “What?” you ask. I asked the same question myself as I had never heard of the Wild Goose Festival but I checked out their website and felt a stirring within that this was a place I wanted to be if only to find out if what I had read was true. The Wild Goose Festival Website does a terrific job of explaining what the Wild Goose Festival is all about, but I want to share just a few of those things with you here that I got off of their website.

“It’s a place where all kinds of people come together, not only to hear great music and incredible speakers but also to dive into lively conversations with thought leaders, writers, dreamers, artists, visionaries, social justice activists, peace-makers…the ones you’ll find on the official program, and the ones you might meet while just getting lunch or hanging out by the river. It’s also a place where you can be a spectator, but where you can be a co-creator as well. A place where we affirm the creativity in all of us, and opportunities to make art and music, to tell stories and take in stories, can be found around every corner.” The Wild Goose website provides everything you need to know. 

The Goose was all of the above and so much more. For me, it was the PEOPLE that came from every walk of life, from infants to the elderly in their 70’s and 80’s, from every race, gender, whether heterosexual, gay, transgendered, married or single. There were multitudes of people from traditional religions, contemporary religions, agnostics, and atheists. Ready for this one? There were Catholics, Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, Muslims, etc., coming together not just with differing denominations, but embracing the agnostics and atheists too. Did you hear what I just said? The Wild Goose Festival brings together all faiths, as well as those without a faith or belief.

There was no trying to transform, win people over to another religion, or “let’s save those damn agnostics and atheists while we have them together!” There was no damning those who were not heterosexual or trying to convert them to save their soul which many churches do today. It made no difference whether you had any money or not; the rich, the poor and those fiscally in the middle were equals. POTUS45 made fun of disabled people, but the Goose welcomed all disabled people while making them feel like everyone else. The Goose is not only for the extroverts, the introverts were welcomed too. I know, I’m pretty much of an introvert. I have never seen such a vastness of diverse people hanging out together for four days regardless of differences. Everyone connected one to another without a moments thought of racism, sexism, bias, judgment, or condescending treatment. The Goose was everything except what the world has become. The Wild Goose was inviting, not divisive; loving, not fueling the hatred; accepting, not a festival for the chosen. The Goose gave hope and love to all four-thousand plus people that attended. I have not confirmed it, but I was told this year’s Wild Goose Festival had more people than any other Wild Goose Festival; I was not surprised to hear this Festival drew so many people. 

Take a look at the world we are living in; better yet, look at what has been steadily sprouting up throughout the United States, especially in the last couple years. Divisiveness, racism, misogyny, and I am not going to speak to all of the political biases, lie after lie after lie, broken promises, the government separating children from their parents, Russia hacking into our voting polls, possible collusion with the Russians. We the people are searching for something to replace our fear, something to give us hope, something to keep us from giving up, and those who went to the Wild Goose Festival found it, if only for four days. 

There was one particular woman I met through my volunteering, her name is Bec Cranford. Bec was the Wild Goose Volunteer Coordinator, but she was involved in more than coordinating volunteers; she was everywhere ensuring everything went as planned. I immediately felt a connection to Bec and deeply respected and admired her who according to herself “…is a self-identified Baptiscostal misfit preacher from Atlanta, Georgia. When she’s not hanging out with her dog Basil or painting, you can probably find her at the Gateway Center working to make homelessness brief and rare in the city. Or at Candler School of Theology, rocking her students’ socks off. Or, preaching, marrying folks, or sitting on her front porch with friends, having conversations about life, God, and everything in between.” Bec Cranford is one hell of a woman and child of God. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I realized what my immediate connection to Bec was. Bec Cranford posted a poem on the Wild Goose Festival Volunteers FB page that I asked her if I could share on my blog. So, I give you Bec Cranford’s heart-wrenching heart speak. 

I Kept the Faith 

By Bec Cranford

I kept the faith.

Although some days I tried to give it back.

I kept the faith.

But not in a pious, sanctimonious way-

But more like Job, who cursed the day he was born,

More like David, who screamed “why have you forsaken men,”

More like Jeremiah, who complained.

I kept the faith, 

Because it’s not apologetics, math problems, easy answers, syllogisms, nor logical premises.

I kept the faith,

Because it was messy, wild, freeing, and larger than any one denomination or creed.

I kept the faith, 

Because I believed in Thy Kingdom Come when things would be made right, and I’d see no more hatred of strangers, economic injustice, war, genocide, prisons, sickness, hunger, and homelessness.

I kept the faith,

Even when Christians judged me harshly because God called me graciously.

I kept the faith,

Even when all my hurts and broken messes tried to turn me towards idols and sin- and most of the time, I sinned.

I keep the faith, 

Because I remind myself of all the deeds and salvation, God has done in my life.

I keep the faith,

Because God had loved me, even when everyone else wrote me off as a rebel, a sinner, a nonconformist, a gender bender, a heretic, and an apostate.

I keep the faith because I can never forget what happened at the bottom of a bathtub, when the MDMA, cocaine, and ketamine stopped my heart, but Jesus came to death to rescue me.

I Kept the Faith

Photo by Ana Olaberria Egiguren

I am thankful that Bec kept her faith and made it through the dark time she found herself in. If you are privileged to know Bec Cranford, you know what a remarkable woman she is. Those of you reading this blog post, please hear me. There are thousands and thousands of Bec Cranfords in our world today, and every day it is getting worse and the numbers of those that are hanging on by a thread increases. Not everyone has a faith to keep and there are hundreds of thousands without hope or someone to turn to for help due to shame and embarrassment or they are simply all alone in this world. They have no one. The number of people who have had to go on antidepressants, Xanax, Klonopin, etc., since the election has skyrocketed. I had a conversation with a physician who admitted to prescribing a significantly higher rate of these medications since the election. People are scared for their lives, as well as the lives of their families. They are being judged by their neighbors, disowned by their families, turned out by the Trump Evangelicals.

Jesus never turned anyone out. In fact, he chose to hang out with the poor, the prostitutes, the lepers, the disabled, the adulterers, etc. Jesus chose the sinners over those who would talk the talk but didn’t practice what they preached. Those that were condescending to the have-nots, those who were mentally and physically ill, or did not have money enough to fit in with those who attended their temples… their congregations. Think about it folks. The Wild Goose is everything Jesus taught; it is about love, not judging, acceptance for everyone. That is why I left the festival with a tattoo anklet that reads: Love is Love is Love is Love is Love all the way around my ankle and connected with a red heart.

I was just reading a John Pavlovitz blog post and want to end my post with something I hope EVERYONE hears and takes to heart. Each one of you can be the reason someone keeps their faith. I don’t usually do this, however, I am asking everyone who reads this post to share this post for the sake of humanity, and for the sake of perhaps one person out there somewhere right now that needs a reason to keep their faith.

“At the end of the day, so many of the grieving, struggling, fearful human beings filling up the landscape you find yourself in today, are hanging by the very thinnest of threads. They are heroically pushing back despair, enduring real and imagined terrors, warring with their external circumstances and with their internal demons. They are doing the very best they can, sometimes with little help or hope—and they just need those of us who live alongside them to make that best-doing, a little easier.” – John Pavlovitz

Visit John Pavlovitz on his website Stuff That Needs To Be Said and check out the Wild Goose Festival 2019. 

 

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