Monday, April 23, 2018

What Kind of Goose?

Geese are trashy birds in my estimation. One of the funniest things I ever saw happen to my father involved a goose.  Dad was wander around the perimeter of a lake we were fishing and he was looking for a good place to go down to the edge of the lake.  He saw a place he thought was good and started for the water when a giant goose raised up out of the cattails and hissed, aggressively lurching at him with that long neck.  Dad thought he was being attacked by a snake and he made short work of backing back up the bank of the lake.  I was watching and laughing.

"An geadh-glas" was the Scandinavian word for it.  It means "wild goose" but the Celtics used the word for the Holy Spirit.  What a perfect thought as we approach Pentecost and the "flight" of the Church.  For that is a perfect description of what happened.  The Church flew off in multiple directions, taking flight to land in places all over the world.  It was a wild Church .... it was a free Church ... it was ordained and filled with the Spirit of God.  Soren Kierkegaard writes a story about geese ... here it is ...

"A certain flock of geese lived together in a barnyard with high walls around it.  Because the corn was good and the barnyard was secure, these geese would never take a risk. One day a philosopher goose came among them. He was a very good philosopher and every week they listened quietly and attentively to his learned discourses. 'My fellow travellers on the way of life,' he would say, 'can  you seriously imagine that this barnyard, with great high walls around it, is all there is to existence?
I tell you, there is another and a greater world outside, a world of which we are only dimly aware. Our forefathers knew of this outside world. For did they not stretch their wings and fly across the trackless wastes of desert and ocean, of green valley and wooded hill? But alas, here we remain in this barnyard, our wings folded and tucked into our sides, as we are content to puddle in the mud, never lifting our eyes to the heavens which should be our home.

The geese thought this was very fine lecturing. 'How poetical,' they thought. 'How profoundly existential. What a flawless summary of the mystery of existence.' Often the philosopher spoke of the advantages of flight, calling on the geese to be what they were. After all, they had wings, he pointed out. What were wings for, but to fly with? Often he reflected on the beauty and the wonder of life outside the barnyard, and the freedom of the skies.

And every week the geese were uplifted, inspired, moved by the philosopher's message. They hung on his every word. They devoted hours, weeks, months to a thoroughgoing analysis and critical evaluation of his doctrines. They produced learned treatises on the ethical and spiritual implications of flight. All this they did. But one thing they never did. They did not fly! For the corn was good, and the barnyard was secure!"  

What kind of geese are we?  Are we barnyard geese, domesticated and owned by all the things that give us shelter, comfort and safety?  Or, are we an geadh-glas flying free, unbound by the world but being the agents of salvation for all who live on this planet?  Good question!  Randy

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