In Western Christianity, the symbol of the Holy Spirit is a dove. Doves are quiet, gentle creatures; we even use the expression “gentle as a dove.” I believe our image of God and the Holy Spirit working in our lives is shaped by that image—a gentle force that quietly coos at us.
But in Celtic Christianity, the symbol of the Holy Spirit is not a dove but a wild goose—unpredictable, untamed, free. A wild goose doesn’t coo, it honks. It seems to have its own mind, which may or may not agree with our own.
The Christian journey is not walk down a well worn path; rather, we’re on a wild goose chase! In the vernacular, that expression means we’re chasing after something which is elusive. But in terms of faith, it means we don’t know the twists and turns of our life and cannot predict where a relationship with God will lead us, but if we give our lives over to him, our lives will indeed become an adventure: full of love, disappointment, hope, sorrow and mystery.
There’s part of us, the part that likes to plan things, that wants to know what the future holds for us 20 years out, but in the words of John Dunne, CSC, that would be the “deadly clear path” which would rob our lives of adventure, wonder, awe. Instead, we are like cars driving down a windy road at night, with the headlights only illuminating a patch of darkness before us. The only way to see beyond that patch is to keep driving forward. That’s the excitement of life, the thrill, the journey--no telling where the goose may lead us.
Come Holy Spirit.