Friday, April 9, 2010
I Saw Van Gogh in My Bathroom Shower. Really.
Nope, I'm not a raving wackadoodle. At least I don't think so. But I really did see him!
Before you call the crazy bus to my house, allow me to explain.
For several years now I've been trying to bring more peace into my life, to take time to breathe and pay attention to my surroundings, to see, to sense, to listen. Usually I'm a complete failure at this and race around like everyone else. But every now and then I get little reminders of the value of inner peace. Like the gold nugget Karen Jackson shared a few weeks ago at the women's conference I attended: the Chinese pictograph for busy is made up of two characters, the one for killing and the one for spirit. Hear that, America? (Hear that, Becky Ramsey?) Our culture may equate busyness with importance, but I know that running all day long sure doesn't feel good to me. So I say all this to give you background, in hopes that you won't think I'm too much of a looneybird.
There is one time of day that I can say I do a pretty good job at paying attention: my morning shower. So it only lasts about five minutes, but hey, it's a very peaceful five minutes. And sometimes it inspires me to continue paying attention even after I've toweled off!
And sometimes it inspires me to see impressionist painters in flower petals stuck to my shower door and to write blogs about them and their inspiring, creative lives!
No? Look harder. That white blotch is a petal from our pear tree that somehow ended up stuck on my shower door. You still don't see van Gogh's face? Come on. I took the trouble to get back in the shower with my camera just to show it to you. It's his silhouette.
Maybe this will help.
Okay, so it could be any bearded man, but to me it's Vincent van Gogh. (It's also an example of pareidolia . Remember that?)
Before our French life, all I knew about van Gogh was that he was the crazy painter who chopped off his ear in a fight with Gaughin.
Plus, he painted the picture that hung in the kitchen of my childhood home.
I'm pretty sure that my mom picked that one because it was cheery and went with our orange and yellow plaid wallpaper, not because I would grow up and one day have a spiritual transformation in France in which van Gogh played an active part, but I'm grateful just the same. It makes me feel like the artist has been following me around all my life, whispering in my ear.
Do you know much about van Gogh?
I'm so glad I got to know him a bit. His life proves what I keep discovering: people are so much more than their darkest moments, more than their weaknesses and disabilities, even more than their mental illnesses.
I'll share just a couple things about him that were new to me.
Van Gogh started out as an evangelist, a preacher like his dad and uncles. But when he gave away all his things to the poor, in order to more closely identify with them, it started to freak out his family. They made warned the bishop about him and made him quit. He had been painting during that time, painting his parishioners and scenes of their daily life in Holland.
He went back to painting, but he didn't stop working for God. He even wrote a letter to his brother Theo, in which he described Christ as "the supreme artist, more of an artist than all others, disdaining marble and clay and color, working in the living flesh."
His art was dark and grim until he moved to France and discovered his own brand of impressionism. Don't you love the passion in his work? I think it vibrates, like his light.
Here's another of my favorites. The almond tree, in blossom.
Look! We're back to flower petals again.
I just love it when that happens.
Have a great weekend, y'all!
PS. Enjoy this amazing series of self portraits of van Gogh. And if you want a great movie to see this weekend, I recommend Lust for Life, the 1950's film about van Gogh's life starring Kirk Douglass. It's a favorite of mine.