Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Vincent Van Gogh -- Echoes of Glory

I watched an excellent program about Vincent Van Gogh on PBS last night. As I watched, I was struck again by Van Gogh's obsession with color, texture and light. His paintings seem like an attempt by him to have a mystical encounter -- to somehow uncover creation and get at the divine presence or glory embedded in it.

I think Van Gogh was on to something. His intuition that there is -- or was -- a glory embedded in nature is right. We sense and feel it when we step outside on a still, sun drenched afternoon and feel the warmth of the sun penetrate to our bones. Or when we crunch through snow on a cloudy day as the cold air stings the skin of our face. We feel glory.
Van Gogh wanted to crack open creation to unleash the glory there -- a glory he longed deeply for. His mistake, I believe, is that the glory he sensed was an echo of the glory present in creation. Creation needs to be cracked open, but not to unleash glory. It needs to be cracked open to be infused with glory -- the glory of the Triune God. It used to be so. And echoes of that glory are woven all through the creation.

I love the beauty, power and presence of Van Gogh's work. It does touch the glory. It reminds me that God loves all he has made and that one day the "glory of the Lord will fill the earth." Do you think maybe then the fields and skies will look like a Van Gogh painting?


Kent Sanders said...

Peter, I just came across your blog via the Internet Monk. I teach at a Christian College affiliated with the Restoration Movement (my areas are ministry, worship and the arts). Thanks for the good thoughts on Van Gogh - my favorite painter. What is your favorite Van Gogh work?

Peter said...

The Starry Night. When I lookm at that painting, I imagine Vincent in the room of his asylum full of longing. The painting is drenched in it.