The Legend of the Wild Goose
Legend states that some of the Celtic believers in the British Isles used the wild goose to symbolize the Holy Spirit instead of the traditional dove. Unlike the dove, which is as calm and gentle, a wild goose will attack you and is in essence wild, untamed, and uncontrolled.
In similar fashion, the Holy Spirit is unpredictable – blowing to and fro like the wind (John 3:8) and coming in power (Acts 1:8), disturbing the status quo and setting the people into a new adventure with God.
When you couple this picture of the Holy Spirit with the Shakespearean phrase, “a wild goose chase”, you get the recipe for mystery and adventure. The choices and decisions of God may not be those of man – in fact, most likely, people will look at these choices in horror, thinking that you are embarking on a wild goose chase – a foolish adventure that will only end in disaster.
Yet, if the Holy Spirit is the Wild Goose that one chases…well, then everything changes. Things that seem foolish to us become wise in the sight of God Almighty as we trade worldly security for radical obedience, judgment for mercy, and our life for His life.
To chase the Wild Goose is to embark on an adventure within the upside-down Kingdom of Heaven.
[box] (Disclaimer: There is debate about whether or not the early Celtic believers actually used the goose as picture of the Holy Spirit. Ian Bradley (British academic, author, and theologian) wrote in his book “Celtic Christianity: Making Myths and Chasing Dreams” that the legend started in the early 20th century by George Macleod, the founder of the Iona Community. Regardless of the historical origins of the legend, I’m in favor of using the Wild Goose as a symbol for the Holy Spirit as I believe our culture is in need a new symbol of the Spirit to catch our imaginations. The symbol of the Wild Goose is one that pulls people into the radical nature of following Jesus into the great mystery of his rule and reign. It is a wild mysterious symbol that challenges us to go beyond our daily live. You can read more about my decision to keep this legend alive here.)[/box]