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Wild Goose Chase

Posted by Priscilla on July 29, 2011

Wild Goose Chase 

                In my current WIP (work in progress, for you non-writers), a young slave, Samson, carves birds in his spare time.  His birds look like they are breathing.  He loves his birds.  All his dreams are bound up in his birds, for they will help him buy his freedom, he thinks.  One day, while out in the marshes, he sees a darkness spreading across the north sky.  The darkness grows larger the nearer it comes.  So large and so dark that it hides the light of the sun, the darkness frightens him.  He cannot hear the birds or the insects.  The animals have run.  What is it?

                Samson runs back to the cabin to warn the others.  “Storm coming,” he yells as he bursts into the cabin.  Summer looks up.  “Can’t be,” she says with a calmness born of years of reading the sky and the bay.  He motions her out to the porch and points to the darkness.  She cocks her head.  “Listen,” she says.  “It’s geese.”

                And so it is.  Thousands and thousands of geese do not pass over quickly.  In all those long minutes while the geese fly overhead and block out the sun, they stand motionless.  Samson rubs at the goose bumps on his arms.  He has never seen such power.  He will carve that lead goose, someday.  He will carve that power.

                Yesterday, I read that the Celtic Church uses the wild goose as a symbol for the Holy Spirit.  I had never heard that before.  But it fits, does it not?  For Samson’s goose is not only power; for him it is also life and hope.

                What do you think of this unusual symbol?  Most of Christendom has used the dove to symbolize the Holy Spirit.  Some people are offended by a symbol that feels too pagan, too wild for them.  Others believe they are called to follow the movement of this wild goose.  His very wildness reveals his power.

                That got me thinking about symbols and creativity.  Only the human man and woman can make symbols, for only the human mind connects language, pictures, thought, reason, and emotion.  The making of symbols, then, is both our identity and our destiny.  We are symbol makers.  We live to create new symbols.  What greater glory than to create symbols which reveal eternity? 

                Some things belong to the eternal world:  God, of course, but also truth, love, and hope.  When we are in their presence, we are in eternity.  But these are too bright and too wild for us, who are bound by time.  We need the symbol to pretend that we have tamed them.  The symbol gets us close without being burned.  So which symbol can best give hope?  Which can help us best touch peace?  The answer, I think, is the new symbol, the wilder symbol, the symbol that has not become a centuries-old cliché.

                Samson, then, will chase the wild goose, for I, his creator, will chase creativity father in and further up.  What do you think? 

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