The Pentecost story has captured my imagination since I was quite young, and why not? It has all the elements of a blockbuster movie: sound effects (the sound of a rushing wind so loud it drew a crowd); visual effects (tongues of fire!); and transformative human drama.
If that wasn't enough inspiration, I kept thinking of these lines from the dazzling poem, "God's Grandeur," by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
Seriously, "shining from shook foil"? Just close your eyes and picture that.
Then the poem ends with this:
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
I wanted to pull all those elements into my design. The flaming brilliance. The rushing wind -- if not the sound of it at least the sense of powerful movement. The image of the Holy Spirit descending as a dove.
For the flaming effect, it helped that the traditional liturgical color for Pentecost is red. And what would be more natural than a Bargello piecing pattern, since this quilt- piecing technique is adapted from "flame stitch" needlepoint? I chose 11 tonal prints in a range of red hues, from almost-orange to almost-violet.
The color variations in the Bargello pattern create a sort of undulating movement, but I wanted something more directional and forceful, to bring in the drama of that rushing wind. I used golden rays, fanning out from the top center of the banner. Borne on these rays of light, the dove of the Holy Spirit plunges downward. The rays, 7 in number, also represent the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.