It’s nice to be honestly and pleasantly surprised by something. My trip to the Wild
Goose Festival, in Hot Springs, NC in August held a whole lot of surprises for me. I had a general idea about what this four day “Emerging” or “Progressive” Christianity conference was going to be all about… a combination of great speakers, live music an impromptu community. But in truth I really did not exactly what to expect.
To begin with there was the rain, which poured down at least once a day. More interesting was its inevitable bastard offspring, mud. Part way through the second day I had given up the thought of having clean feet and just accepted its ever deepening reality as a fact of life.
For future reference please know that Croc flip flops are TERRIBLE in terms of traction and twice I found that my feet had flown out from under me in spectacular fashion. I am grateful to my Aikido training to teaching me how to land on my butt without injuring anything other than my pride.
Moving on (this is supposed to be a blog about beer after all), one of the other great surprises I found was Beer and Hymns. This occurred twice during the conference. Once, as a scheduled afternoon session and once as an impromptu movement of the Spirit on the last night of the Festival.
Beer and Hymns is pretty much just that. A bunch of folks singing traditional hymns at the top of their lungs. The only difference from what you might find in any church is that most of the group is also clutching a beer (or two or three) whilst they sing praise to God.
As someone who likes to push to the envelope, I thought I had already discovered all the ways in which one could combine love of God and love of beer. I am so glad to be proven wrong. It was an absolute hoot. It all took place outside the beer tent of course so that we could keep our vocal chords well hydrated.
We were lead by an eclectic bunch of instrumentalists under the direction of a guy who looked like he might be Wavy Gravy’s long lost brother.
The selection was very accessible and largely Protestant in nature. By the time we got to the evening session a couple days later, I decided that we needed a break from the good ole shoutin’ Baptist style hymns and commandeered the group into singing a four part round of Dona Nobis Pacem. Just imagine, over a hundred sisters and brothers gathered under the stars, singing our thanks and praise to God while creating the bonds of fellowship.
When paired with a good Porter, I can’t think of many things that are more satisfying. Indeed, this experience was as genuinely spiritual, uplifting and holy as the many more traditional experiences of worship and prayer I have had.