Food for our Mind and Spirits: Responding to Van Gogh

Sometimes it is hard to tap into our spiritual selves or find time to nurture our intellectual curiosity. Here is a section that reflects on some nourishing materials from around the web and related media channels in order to get us thinking, get us feeling, and get us reflecting on the lives we are living in this big, beautiful world. **Some Adult/Mature Themes May Appear in Links and Other Attached Material**

We think so differently about mental health now than we ever have in our history. And that has reshaped how we understand and receive the luminaries from our cultural pasts.

Can we think of a better example of not understanding someone through the lens of their mental illness than the artist Vincent Van Gogh? A man who clearly suffered from depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he never received treatment or even consideration in his lifetime, despite how long and continuously he wrestled with it. And who could have needed more support than this particular person who so publicly suffered and is so well known for it?

Nicole Krauss, as part of an exhibit at the Van Gogh museum exhibit, responded to Van Gogh, many years after the fact, in a way that is candid and responsive and beautiful. You can read her letter here. In the process, it is a reminder of how much of being human is the same, even if we as humans aren’t always ready to understand what’s at stake.

Fortunately, learning through exercises like this can give us all a perspective to respond to one another with empathy, humility and understanding.

Allan T. GeorgiaM.Div., M.T.S., PhDhe/his/him
Director of Religious Education (Lifespan Faith Development)Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland