There’s a lot I love about wild geese and metaphors relating to them. I heard more about them flying in formation and taking turns to be the leader at the Worship Central conference I went to last week. The speaker Jock James also talked about how the geese honk to spur on the lead bird, and then how another bird will move from the slip stream to take over the lead for a while. He also said how if for any reason a bird drops out of formation, due to illness or exhaustion, two birds from the back will fly down with them as support, and then where possible, accompany the bird back to the v grouping once they have recovered. There’s more about some of these ideas from Ron Pereira here.
The sound of wild geese may not be the most melodic, but it’s certainly powerful. Mary Oliver describes it as ‘harsh and exciting’ in her poem Wild Geese, which was read out at the end of a very inspiring keynote speech at a work conference I attended today and yesterday. The keynote speaker Alison Phipps mentioned being part of the Iona Community as part of where she gets her emotional support and energy, as well as enjoying her garden and time knitting. I’ve written before about how I have had spiritually nourishing times on Iona and I’m planning to return there this summer as well. Some of the worship team from the Iona Community publish under the ‘Wild Goose Resource Group’ banner, and it was from them that I heard about the wild goose as a celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit, and I like the goose as a contrast to the gentle dove – it seems more powerful and potentially agitating, but in a good way.
The conference today and yesterday was about Troubling Research, and Alison shared powerfully from her own work including with refugee and asylum seeker groups and individuals and others from around the world. Many of us were moved by her stories and the way she shared very personally from her life and experiences hosting refugees, including an adopted daughter from Eritrea whose incredibly difficult journey to be allowed to stay in the UK touched on extremes of humanity and inhumanity. I was encouraged by the way Alison’s research emphatically involves, empowers and gives voice to the people she meets, and felt inspired and not a little provoked to do more myself.
One of the workshops included the chance to write based on a Snoopy cartoon, but from a different perspective. We had just one minute to write ‘stream of consciousness’ style which definitely felt like a therapeutic opportunity, like some of the metaphor work I have done in dramatherapy in the past. Writing from the bird Woodstock’s perspective, I saw a little friend passionately encouraging Snoopy to write and have a go and share his story. Woodstock probably tweets more than honks, but some of the phrases are definitely ones I have used with friends and students, exhorting them to write it down – as one colleague would say, don’t get it right, get it written.
I’ve definitely got a clear role in encouraging students with their writing and research now, but actually I was feeling more like Snoopy, needing motivation and someone like an enthusiastic Woodstock who believed in me and was interested in what I have to say and the words and research papers and songs I have to share. It was great to then go on to share some songs with one of the workshop groups at the conference today. If you’ve read this far, dear reader, you could be a key encourager for me, so please do feedback somehow and encourage me, particularly if anything I write is of any encouragement to you. I have been motivated to write more songs after the recent Worship Central event and will be leading one at church on Sunday, so I’m really hoping people will join in, sing or clap or honk along. Honk!