The Untamed Goose

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34–35 NLT)

While most mentions of the Holy Spirit in Scripture use wind, breath, or fire as illustrations of his nature and power, Celtic tradition uses the imagery of a wild goose. While it seems quite ridiculous, there is some sense to it. Geese are loud animals that refuse to be ignored, are not easily intimidated, and cannot be tamed.

When the Holy Spirit prompts us to action, it can be as if an annoying clamor broke through the calm, quiet order we had set for our day. He will not be intimidated. No matter how hard we push, we cannot bend the Holy Spirit to our will or our way; we would have better luck attempting to fell a redwood with our bare hands. He is God and cannot be tamed. Even so, whether described as goose, wind, or fire, we can trust the Holy Spirit is for our good. We will not always have the easiest time following the untamed Holy Spirit where he leads us, but he will not leave us behind if we choose to go where he directs.

There is another image of the Holy Spirit that illustrates this wildness mixed with care, depicted by Aslan the lion in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. After his resurrection, one of the first things Aslan does is have a romp with Lucy and Susan, chasing the two girls while they chase him, all of them generally running around with unbridled energy. By the end of the romp, “whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind.” The two girls are then invited to climb on Aslan’s back while he races across Narnia to defeat of the White Witch and save Narnia.

When we make the choice to follow after Jesus – not just the first time, but daily – we are also choosing to follow where the Holy Spirit leads. By his power, we will be part of the impossible and improbable story of God in our world, but, like Mary birthing the Son of God, it will not only be possible but it will seem as if there was no other way it could have been. The Holy Spirit is not a god who can be tamed, nor should we want him to be.

Will you choose to take on the difficult task of following where the Holy Spirit leads, even if it is more akin to chasing after a wild goose or climbing on the backside of a lion than you might be comfortable with?