Vincent van Gogh was not a likable guy. He would explode in anger at his family and lash out at acquaintances. He wasn’t able to sustain any real friendships until the last months of his life, after he had already been suffering with mental illness, isolation, and physical deterioration for years. Without his brother, Theo, Vincent would have undoubtedly been unsheltered and completely alone. Maybe that’s why I’m thinking of him today – this isolated, wounded, beautiful saint.
It’s snowing and windy. The “feels like” temperature this morning was 17 degrees. Even so, we’ve had a few of our unsheltered neighbors stop by the church, completely alone. Each of them has their own struggles with mental illness, addiction and trauma. Sometimes they lash out. But, more often than not, they’re kind, courteous, and share God’s blessing with me. These neighbors are isolated, wounded, beautiful saints.
This Sunday is “All Saints Day,” a day to think about the saints who surround us. Van Gogh was a difficult man – but now, when I see his paintings, I won’t only see his bold colors and frenetic brush strokes. I’ll also see the man who desperately wanted to experience the loving beauty of God in other people as much as he experienced it in an iris, cypress, and wheat field. He was a difficult man AND he was a saint – a child of God made holy by the mercy, love and grace of God.
Who are the saints around you? They may be very difficult to get along with. But each and every one of us is God’s beloved child, made holy by God’s mercy, love and grace. Will the saints around you and me experience the beauty of God’s love pouring out from us?
See you Sunday…