I live on a flight path! True the occassional aeroplane does fly over our garden and house, but the flight path I am talking about is one taken by geese. Morning and evening they cross over from roost to goose day, and you will hear them coming long before they pass by. But one day this autumn the sound came long and loud and looking south a host of geese were migrating south for the winter.
They fly in this V formation to save energy, the geese on the wings benefit from the hard work of the lead goose and as this goose tires they will switch place to rest one another. Often the entire formation will go to ground to stay with a goose who is struggling and await its rest. Truly awesome compassion in the animal kingdom.
Source: Sam, The Sacred Canopy
In the Celtic tradition the Holy Spirit is represented as a bird, but not the peaceful and serene dove landing on Jesus at his baptism. For their symbol of the Holy Spirit, the Celtic church people chose the Wild Goose, ( An Geadh-Glas) This has become, the logo and name for the worship branch of the Iona Community.
Why did the Wild Goose speak to those ancient Celtic Christians? To begin with, wild geese aren’t controllable. You can’t restrain a wild goose and bend it to your will. They’re raucous and loud. Unlike the sweet and calming cooing of a dove, a goose’s honk is strong, challenging, strident and unnerving – and just a bit scary.
In much the same way the Spirit of God can be, demanding and unsettling. Think about the story of Pentecost, and the impression the disciples made on the crowd. People thought they were drunk and disorderly!
Its one thing for a gentle dove to descend peacefully on Jesus – it’s something all together different when the Spirit descends like a wild, noisy goose!
“Holy Spirit of God, brooding over Iona’s wild restless waters,
laughing with the wind’s fury or gentle touch,
rising with the sun and settling amidst the stars –
Be present here among us”.