Friday, July 16, 2010

are you there, God?

I have been reading a bit about Vincent van Gogh, and while I always enjoyed the beauty of some of his most famous works of art, I never realized how profoundly deeply he wrote. 

As many artists now famous, van Gogh did not get to enjoy the appreciation that others find in his art nor the financial rewards of that appreciation.  He lived a life full of poverty and tragedy and died at the young age of 37.  During his life his younger brother, Theo, helped to support Vincent financially, and Vincent wrote to Theo hundreds of letters often discussing his life's woes and also on his views on life.  Many of these letters were left when Theo died and have been translated to English.  (Good thing for me, since I don't know Dutch!)

When I read some of his letters two things stand out to me.  First, he seems to have been hurt by men during his life, and in particular religious men.  This hurt caused him to question faith and God and religion and all that goes along with those things and with life. 

The second thing that marked me when reading some of his letters is that, even though he had these deep emotional scars that he carried with him which caused him to seemingly harden to all things "religious", he could not deny the beauty and love in life, and at least acknowledge that God was in there somewhere.  When he painted the stars, that is where he felt God.  When he loved others, that is where he felt God.  When others showed love to him, he felt God. 

It touches me to have learned about a man who, like so many others, has had a difficult life, has been hurt by others, but yet is still able to see good in all that God created.  My heart goes out to him and others like him.  No matter how low I find myself in this life, I will never be able to deny the existence of God.  In the wind.  In the waves.  In the fields.  In the flowers.  In a baby's cry.  In a child's smile.  In the majestic trees.  In loving others.

Vincent van Gogh quotes:

The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.

What has changed is that my life then was less difficult and my future seemingly less gloomy, but as far as my inner self, my way of looking at things and of thinking is concerned, that has not changed. But if there has indeed been a change, then it is that I think, believe and love more seriously now what I thought, believed and loved even then.

I think that everything that is really good and beautiful, the inner, moral, spiritual and sublime beauty in men and their works, comes from God, and everything that is bad and evil in the works of men and in men is not from God, and God does not approve of it.

But I cannot help thinking that the best way of knowing God is to love many things. Love this friend, this person, this thing, whatever you like, and you will be on the right road to understanding Him better, that is what I keep telling myself. But you must love with a sublime, genuine, profound sympathy, with devotion, with intelligence, and you must try all the time to understand Him more, better and yet more. That will lead to God, that will lead to an unshakeable faith.  Try to grasp the essence of what the great artists, the serious masters, say in their masterpieces, and you will again find God in them. One man has written or said it in a book, another in a painting.

1 comment:

tea said...

Wow, I love hearing his quotes. ..And your thoughts. This post brings tears to my eyes as it makes me think again about how much mercy God has for us, and how he speaks to us and draws us in his unseen ways, even through the hurt and pain that we experience.