You might assume that an original gift from Dan Schutte would most likely be a piece of music or a song,
but that’s not what I received in the mail last week. Dan is a creative man of many talents. Besides composing works of art in music, he also enjoys painting them. He even stretches his own canvases on wooden frames. One day in his studio, he was looking at a pile of wood scraps from the canvases he just assembled and was struck with inspiration. With a little sanding, a little paint, a little glue, and a lot of imagination, he began creating modern form sculptures from the odd pieces of wood. It is one of those sculptures, titled Cathedral, that he sent as a thank you for the hospitality he received from our parish during the Triduum.
Not only is it a beautiful work of art (I hope you’ll stop and take a look at it this weekend in the front of the church to the right), but it also makes a profound statement about today’s feast of the Pentecost, the sending of the Spirit of God to the first followers of Jesus. Until that moment, they were a frightened and confused group of people who had no sense of a bigger picture, no clear direction to take their next steps. When the Spirit of God comes upon them, it impels them out of a locked room and into the world at large, speaking to all peoples, in all languages, in all cultures. This Spirit dresses them in a diversity of gifts which enables them to bring the message of the Gospel to places they couldn’t even have imagined before. They were probably still frightened a lot of the time, but the wonders they witnessed along the way must certainly have assured them that they were on the right path.
I see so much of this reflected in Dan’s sculpture. The “church” is literally made up of many different colors, some somber, some bright, but visually balanced to one another, and, underneath the paint, all are made of the same substance. Also, the “church” is completely composed of angles facing in all directions and, depending on how you look at things, they are either all open angles (and thus able to catch the wind and inspiration from which- ever direction it may come) or these angles are pointing outward from the church, showing us where the Spirit wants us to move. All of these angles also create several labyrinths within the sculpture, a symbol to me of the many paths and ways and roads to God….none of which are straightforward. It may seem at first that there is only one small cross at the very top of the piece, but, when you change your viewpoint and look at Cathedral from above, you realize that there are many, many crosses in the sculpture, just as all parts of the church together make up the Body of Christ.
My favorite part of the piece, though, has to do with its humble beginnings. From what were just scraps of wood—pieces that might have been discarded—something beautiful has been created. The artist saw the potential and collected the stray and random bits into a meaningful whole. I like to think that God does likewise with the Church. We might not see the entire picture clearly right now, but God’s Spirit is at work, using each of us in specific ways, drawing us together over time into a masterpiece, a work of art which will eventually mirror the face of God.
May this celebration of Pentecost remind us of that process and deepen our trust in it. May it encourage us to put our gifts to use at the Spirit’s direction, as we walk the roads that lead to the Kingdom of God.