July 2011 Prayer and Reflection
From the July 2011 cover of Living with Christ
By Living with Christ Staff
The son of a clergyman, Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) studied to be a pastor and was a preacher among poor peasant farmers for many years before he turned to art in the last ten years of his life. It was, perhaps, inevitable that he would be fascinated by fellow artist Jean-François Millet’s “The Sower” (1850) and the parable that inspired it.
Van Gogh replicated the Millet painting in numerous studies, painting The Sower (after Millet) in the last year of his life. Depicting more details than Millet, he shows us the peasant’s face instead of keeping it in shadow, and he lightens the sky with yellow, the color he used to convey power, light, and joy. Like parables themselves (stories about everyday life that hold deeply spiritual lessons), the painting communicates meaning in the seemingly mundane details of daily living. Its vivid colors and compelling energy preach eloquently about human dignity, the spiritual value of honest labor, the joy of the anticipated future harvest.
If you wish, sit quietly with the picture, and reflect on the following questions:
• What ordinary activity of my day is an opportunity to be a sign of hope and trust in God’s promise of new life?
• Where do I sow the seeds of the gospel?
•In what soil am I willing to be sown as the seed of God’s kingdom?