Birds

Birds

The past three May weekends in Paris and Strasbourg, France and in Florence, Italy, there were Symposiums celebrating the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation sponsored by Mount Tabor Center for the Arts and Spirituality. Protestants and Catholics celebrated together the achievements over these 500 years. These Symposiums were a two-day series of lectures and museum visits presented or conducted primarily by well-versed theology professors, but also by art historians and artists themselves. A lot of stimulating thoughts were presented and debated. The topic in Paris was the Holy Ghost portrayed as a bird/dove in art and His presence and meaning in theology both historic and modern. I learned a whole lot!! It was like being back in University; mind you in France, the language was French but in Italy, Italian of course. Another wrinkle to the weekends! I became attuned to seeing the bird/the dove/the Holy Spirit in art and looking for where He was in paintings and sculpture and how He was portrayed. In historic art, the bird is figurative: one sees the literal bird. And in modern art, the bird is often abstract, one senses the spirit of the bird. Now I am seeing birds and thinking of the Holy Spirit, listening to them outside my window and thinking of them flying around where they will as the Holy Spirit blows where He will, the breath of the spirit. A hefty metaphor here. I have looked around the Begijnhof after I returned  seeing birds in the paintings and sculptures where I never saw them before. Look, there He is, the Holy Spirit! Pentecost is Sunday — the coming of the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts of the Apostles (and us).  Behold He comes. Veni Creator Spiritus!

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