October 27, 2015
Viewing a beautiful book of gorgeous sanctuaries embellished with floating, glowing, sculptural elements, three of us shared tentative questions – “What if?” “Do you think?” “Could we?” Awestruck by what others imagined and executed, and how perfect installations fit their rpaces, we played with the ‘maybes’.
When the idea of floating doves came to me, it was clear they should be the same shape as the doves in our windows; simple, graceful, cross-like and unmistakably Plymouth. I hadn’t yet imagined a whole flock suspended in the Sanctuary. Initially, I focused on how to make a lightweight bird-like kite. Tinkering with the elements, I tried different types of lightweight wood, papers, glue, tape and ways to suspend prototypes. Sharing the first dove-kites with Jamie and Diane to get their impressions was scary. Their enthusiastic response made it abundantly clear that a flock of doves was coming soon. Thanks to support of our ministerial staff, the dove project took shape and the goal of hanging an installation for our 145th Sunday anniversary was set. Somehow, we would create and suspend hundreds of delicate dove-kites in just a few weeks.
Fortunately, Jamie is a wizard at pulling in people and organizing the masses and Diane is a skilled tactician who can brilliantly navigate Plymouth. I am good at working behind the scenes, project logistics and repetitive, set up prep work. We determined this installation would be most meaningful with as many people as possible involved in making the doves and getting them flying.
In some ways it would have been easier to hold tight to the project; no need to rally others, figure out how to make dove-making accessible to many skill levels, no need to work things out with lots of different folks. Simpler, yes. Tempting, yes. For this installation to speak to the congregation and deepen our worship together, the doves needed to come from the larger “us” rather than just a few.
So, we let go and invited all. Dozens joined us to help make doves and attach strings used to suspend doves from monofilaments. Dozens more helped carry out the fussy tasks of tying doves to monofilaments, taping strings down so they wouldn’t slide, keeping them from tangling with each other and catching in chairs while lines of doves were slowly raised toward the ceiling. They were truly dove whisperers. We used the wonderful pulley system and did not climb up amazingly tall ladders to hang all those doves!
Now, hundreds of us are part of the installation. Notice how air currents move several doves at a time. Some are entwined and float together. Maybe you simply take it all in. I hope all consider how cool it is that something beautiful and alive can be created when we let an idea percolate, shape it together, see it through together, trust each other and allow the Spirit to take things where they need to go.