My last blog ended with a summation after my first encounter with the wild goose. There I wrote, “That everything is inter-connected; that the divine is present and at work in all things; and that my experiences are doorways to revelation of God’s love for us all. Long ago I had to be taught not to trust my experiences. After all, the wild goose is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and setting her free has more to do with my sense of being bound as much as it did hers! Now it is time to claim my own inner authority.”
Little did I know that this rediscovered way of being in the world – which is what a real belief is, would be put to the test just two days after the first encounter and of course it would involve, yes, another goose! It happened in the simplest and most ordinary of settings and events.
Kris and I were coming home after visiting my favorite store and it was still somewhat light out. I had a break in the traffic to turn left by Legends Sports Bar and Grill so I took it. I was slowing down through that stretch when all of a sudden stepping out from between two parked cars was this defiant goose! I stopped the car and began to laugh inside. “What now?”
She just stood there completely blocking my way. She raised her head as if to reveal some curiosity. There we were in a staring contest… Finally I honked the horn. I didn’t lay on it but I gave it a good “honk!”
And she raised her head and gave me a good “honk” right back!
The nerve, I thought. The nerve, she thought. The staring contest continued until the one in control of the situation, the goose, immediately turned an about face and began to slowly waddle up the street with me in very slow pursuit. Every once in a while she would turn her head to ensure we were still following until she reached the island of grass where we could get by her. As we passed she gave us one more honk for good measure.
It is a simple tale…or tail, really.
I am safe when living in my head. Things there make sense and if they don’t, I can easily fork-lift them to a large warehouse in my mind where I put the stuff of life that does not add up. But I am trying to and have been invited to (again) live life differently. This was a peirasmos for me. Peirasmos is the Greek word for test or tempt. It is a temptation if the goal of the experience is to lead one away from God and it is a test if it is to draw one closer to God. I chose to see this as a test. This experience carried a very clear and personal message. I was to “set the Spirit free” in my first encounter and now the defiant reminder to follow. As Father Richard Rohr says, “Jesus never asks us to worship him; but to follow him.” For Celtic Christians, the wild goose IS the symbol for the Holy Spirit and I got the message. Follow me, SHE says.
“Thank you,” I say. I will.
I thought surely my encounters with the goose would now be over. No. There is more to come. I’m laughing now. That response is both a defense mechanism and good old appreciative laughter. Honk!
Father Scott Jenkins is a Founding Director of the Celtic Way. Read more about him Here.