For Lent, I have decided to update my blog for each of the 40 days. The subject of my updates is answering the question, WIGIAT?, or Where is God in all this?
Lately, I've been thinking about the song Vincent, by Don McLean. This song is about Vincent Van Gogh, and it was a song I remember listening to in elementary school as part of an art appreciation class taught by a friend's mother. (as far as growing up in Eyota was concerned, this probably wasn't on your normal playlist) Anyway, whenever I see a Van Gogh painting, my mind immediately starts humming, "starry starry night."
But it's really amazing how much Don McLean takes Van Gogh's work and life, and articulates it in song. The opening lines, "Starry, starry night; paint your palette blue and gray. Look out on a summer's day, with eyes that know the darkness in my soul." Hearing these words, and knowing now how much Van Gogh suffered from mental illness, it's easier to see how Van Gogh may have found such vividness in the world around him, because of the darkness that kept rearing its head in his own life. While this darkness caused so much pain in his own life, it allowed Van Gogh to express a world of light that both he, and so many who suffer from mental illness long for.
So much of the time, we don't want to get into the pain and suffering in people's lives. It's easier, or seems to be, if we just spend our time in the superficial things like weather and other people. This is why we need art, like music, and painting, or music about painters, that helps us explore the darkness of our own souls with beautiful companions. In finding such companions, we are joined in our own journeys by people whose compassion continues to speak to us; as Don McLean sings, "Colors changing hue, morning fields of amber grain, weathered faces lined in pain, are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand."
In other words, Don McLean helps me to understand Van Gogh, who helps me to understand Jesus, when he says in Matthew 6, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these."