Not sure why I am so drawn to this painting, but there is just something about it that really speaks to my soul. So let’s unpack it together.
Painted in 1890, it is the last painting Van Gogh produced in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France, shortly before he died. It is sort of a last testimony if you will…his look at life and what I like to call his God statement. I find looking at these kinds of artistic statements from time to time fascinating.
Michelangelo’s God Creating Adam in the Sistine Chapel = God of Power and Might
Mozart’s Lacrimosa = God of Judgement and Mercy
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy Symphony = God of Love and Brotherhood
Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus = God the King of all Kings
Each of them, in their unique way, paint a picture of life and of God that can give us insight as we travel through each phase of our individual situations.
Here in this painting we see a cypress tree that is central and looming so large that it expands beyond the canvas. We don’t really know the end of it as the towering obelisk is massive in its presence.
The road implies life’s journey, I believe. It is large and fluid and takes on the sweeping feeling of a rushing river… the river of life, perhaps.
Obviously a night scene, the picture is fully illuminated by a crescent moon and a very bright star. A planet perhaps? Both suggest infinity and heavenly bodies…
I see the two men walking together side by side. They will soon be out of the picture.
But then I see a carriage arriving, bringing new people along the way and I wonder:
Who am I feeling the most fellowship with in this painting?
Not sure, but interesting to think and meditate on life’s journey and where we are on our spiritual road. What are we leaving behind? What will be our legacy? Who will benefit from our work? Will they struggle or will they reap the reward of our labors somehow?
We all stand on the shoulders of many who came before us. In a myriad of ways, God blesses our lives with people and resources. Every generation comes and goes and leaves their mark to guide the next along their way. There will always be challenges, but we must strive every day to plant strong signs of God’s presence to comfort and guide the future as it arrives.
I like thinking about Van Gogh. He inspires such love from his viewers. A life of pain that still blessed this world with great beauty. A voice crying in the wilderness that says there is a magnificent God who watches over all of us.
I see here that Van Gogh continues to be a voice declaring a God of mystery and wonder. Through his paintings he speaks to our heart and encourages us to live by placing every day in his hands, despite not understanding the grand plan, but willing non the less to participate with awe. In this way, Vincent is striking his own unique chord of worship.
A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.’ ~ Isaiah 40:3
… ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way, a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ~ Mark 1:2-3
Jesus answered: I am the way and the truth and the life. ~ John 14:6
May God bless your journey!