Donna Shasteen: The Spirit Searches
by Laurence Mottier
Does this firebird which spreads its red glowing feathers over the world represent divine judgment that consumes and condemns or an audacious presence that revives our lives?
Our imagination has the tendency to see this celestial fire as a destructive force emanating from an angry and revengeful god, who sits on his throne on high and scorges us sinners. But suddenly the Pentecost sky is filled with invigorating flames that descend on the heads of the disciples. An unprecedented spectacle evolves before their eyes and those of the world (Acts 2:1-13).
I see in this work by Donna Shasteen the warm presence of the Spirit, who represents the ardour of God’s longing for us, revealing himself in the tenderness of a bird whose beak feeds the dark world with his living light.
The burning of the sky is not so much part of an apocalypse, but rather points to a presence giving itself to the world to sow renaissance and renewal. The wings sweep away all that is cold and arid, dark and desolate. Their red glow tears apart the curtain of our night to let an incredible wave of love stream in, a renewed lust for life.
How I long to receive the precise and salutary touch of the Messenger of God in me, to feel the sweetness of a bill that speaks of the loving attention God gives to every human being, also to me!
How I long for this fiery force that burns with love, which alone is capable of standing our havoc-wreaking logic on its head, our empires of hate and violence whose capacity to harm others and all of creation seems endless.
The living God searches for us. He wants to set our souls and lives on fire with new and unprecedented things: unlettered fishermen, tax collectors and women receive the gift to speak in foreign languages to make known the Gospel of Christ to all the different peoples present in Jerusalem on this day of Pentecost.
The Spirit of Christ does not make use of one holy language, but rather makes himself heard in all human languages and cultures. Our God is intercultural. He crosses the boundaries that we have erected. He breaks our codes and illusory security. He is looking for all of humanity and all that is human and his Gospel is not the possession of anyone, not of the Jews, not of the Greeks, not of people in the West nor of one Christian denomination.
On Pentecost the Spirit was not given to a small circle of elect comfortably hiding themselves behind closed doors. Rather the friends of Jesus were inspired to pass on this élan of love to anyone anywhere. The whole world opens itself before the astonished eyes of the disciples, yet without any hint of domination or imperialism. The way to God always passes through servitude to our neighbour.
Still we attempt to overlord God. We build empires and religions. We constantly try to contain him in our concepts, traditions, rituals and institutions. But time and again he breaks out of our cages in order to spread his wings anew to smolder our world with his love.
The Spirit continues to present God in all his mystery and incomprehensibility to us, so that we can never lock him up in some absolute conception of our own. Again and again he comes to us with his love, ardent, audacious and free.
Donna Shasteen : The Spirit Searches, acrylic triptych, 60 x 90 cm.
Donna Shasteenhas been involved in visual art and dance for most of her life: art classes, dance classes, dance performances, choreography and teaching dance. She also learned to explore other ways of artistic expression while she was working in the corporate world. The visual art mediums she works in include acrylic, mixed media and fiber. She has made a liturgical cycle of hangings for a children’s chapel that incorporates the creative work of children and adults from the school and church community of The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Houston, Texas, USA, where she worships. See www.donnashasteen.com.
Laurence Mottieris a pastor in the Protestant Church of Geneva, Switzerland, where she ministers to persons with a mental disablility.