Throughout Advent and into the New Year I worked on a tapestry based around a well known outline of the image of the Wild Goose. The connection between Iona, in Scotland, and the Wild Goose goes back to its modern re-founder, George Macleod. The story of the restoration of Iona Abbey is one of the inspirations and historical pivot points in the life of the Church of Scotland, and in the life of the churches in Scotland.
My interest in the image of the wild goose is its connection with the Holy Spirit in modern expressions of Celtic spirituality. There is little evidence it was ever a pervasive symbol in the earlier evolution of Scottish and Celtic religion.
Wild geese are, well, wild. Untamed. Uncontained. Unpredictable. Wild geese fly. They are migrants of the air, powerful and unerring in flight, they come and they go. Like the wind on which they are carried, they fly where they choose. We hear their choral honking, but know not where they came from or where they are going. So said Jesus, it is with those who are born of the Spirit.
The Wild Goose defies our control, flies above our human earthbound limitations, heads for horizons we can only guess at, follows that inner call to God knows where. And that's the truth of it, God does know where. But we don't.
Yet the call of the wild goose is felt in those occasional longings for love and freedom and meaning, that tug away at our own wild hopes. The Spirit prays within us with those inner groanings of fear and hopefulness that are hard to put into words, but are the more real for their mystery and persistence. The wild goose comes, and goes, we hear its sound, feel its tug, and if we are prepared to spread the wings of our own spirit, we are caught up into the life of the Spirit of Christ, we are born again into a trustfulness and newness of life that is the gift of God.
In the absence of adequate words, this tapestry is an icon of the Spirit. The goose, resplendent and alert, is looking upwards. towards, and beyond the horizon. The sun is setting, or rising, the sky in pastel shades of light is both sunrise and sunset. The sea is impossibly blue, the colour of glory, reserved for that which is of infinite worth, eternal and holy.
The foreground is moorland heather, rushes and grasses, and red moss; red moss is a portent of the Passion, because the new life of the Holy Spirit is at the cost of atonement for the sin of the world, and through Christ, the gift of forgiveness of all that is broken in us, and all that we have broken.
God is love. God is light. God is Spirit. God loves in freedom, God's light is the light of life, and God's Spirit moves in the sovereign freedom of grace.