by Rev. Robert H. Tucker
December 8, 1997
Reflections on Starry Night
I was incredibly envious. Words effortlessly and smoothly
flowed from his mouth, and in full complete sentences. A theological
student preaching at a small rural church, he would prepare his
sermons during the fifty-minute Sunday morning drive. As I struggled
to add word to word in some semblance of coherency, his ability
both fascinated me and frustrated me. Shakespeare well expressed
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope.
With what I most enjoy contented least.
Before becoming too mired in despondency, I chanced upon the
Psalmist who also confessed to "almost stumbling and falling"
with jealously. He was saved by "seeing their end."
It caused me to look more carefully at my classmate, and I saw
his gift leading to an effortless glibness, keeping him from further
developing his obvious talents. I could picture him in thirty
years still saying much the same things, still in a smooth impeccable
As a result, seldom am I envious of others. The troubles and
struggles of others seldom make their gifts and benefits worth
Seldom, but not totally. Each time I see Vincent van Gogh's
Starry Night I envy his ability to scrub my eyeballs and make
the world come alive in a new way. I can no longer look at the
clear night sky as pinpoints of cold light. Rather, the night
sky is a swirl of color vibrant with life. (Sorely tested would
be my honesty if alone in a room with Starry Night and a clear
avenue of escape.)
I could wish that I had the ability with words that van Gogh
had with brush and paint-to bring to eyes and minds the total
freshness of the tired tried-and-true so that once again its many
facets glittered, like a flawless diamond. But the end for van
Gogh was death by his own hand at the age of 37 and self-mutilation
before that. His end keeps me from envying his exuberance, desiring
but not envying.
--Robert H. Tucker
8 December 1997
- © Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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