Goose or Dove ?


In the Celtic Christian tradition the Holy Spirit was represented, not as the dove of biblical imagery, but rather as the wild goose (An Geadh-Glas).

Their rationale in choosing this image for the Holy Spirit was multiple.

They knew that wild geese aren’t controllable. They do not live tamed or bent to the will of man. They are migratory birds who come and go, with no warning, answerable only to their own internal motivations.

They are also noisy, raucous, birds! No gentle dove-like cooing, but rather a loud honk! Living in the French countryside, as I do, I experience this first-hand. Whenever I go around to my neighbour’s his geese quickly commence a loud honking, a sound which is challenging, not consoling; strong, not weak; confrontational and slightly disturbing. It is for this reason that  geese often functioned as guard-dogs. They are quite scary.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit does come like a gentle dove. He comes bringing healing, consolation, peace.

But sometimes He comes more like a wild, noisy goose. And that it an entirely different matter!

In His goosely-guise the Holy Spirit comes to disturb, shake up, challenge, awaken.

Celtic spirituality valued this goosely ministry even more than the dove-like ministry. Perhaps that is why they were so successful in mission and discipleship?

Are you for the goose or the dove?