Vincent van Gogh makes an appearance on Dr. Who in an episode where he sees an alien (one who we find out later is trapped, separated and afraid) wreaking havoc in a town, when even the Doctor doesn’t see without some special manipulation of mirrors. van Gogh also sees Amy’s deep sadness when she doesn’t see it, or even feel it herself. This sense of experiencing others feelings is key. At some point The Doctor and Amy decide to take Vincent to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris where the docent explains to The Doctor how important an artist Vincent is, what a dynamic impact he has on the art world, on the world. Even though they do this, show this man his influence, his brilliance, his beauty, he still ends his own life. While Dr. Who is, in and of itself, a work of fiction, though in any work of fiction we find a lot of truth. One of the truths that sits deeply in my being is free-will exists, with sometimes devastating consequences in spite of any good effort on our part. The Doctor didn’t change the outcome of van Gogh’s self inflicted death in spite of hearing how generations of people are deeply moved by his work.
The Doctor tries to make a difference. This in and of itself is kind and noble. It’s good that he tried to do something that held within itself the dynamic possibility of changing van Gogh’s life, giving him a greater opportunity to make more art. In some ways it is delightful to consider the possibilities. And yet van Gogh exercises his will in a self destructive way.
Love is willing the good of the other.
The very definition of Love is willing the good of the other, taking action for the good of the other. Over the course of the last few months the reality of our “free will” has asserted itself over, and over again exemplifying itself peoples actions resulting in frustration, hurt, heartache, pain, agony over what seems like poor behavior, is bad, behavior, and downright evil behavior. We’ve been staying home, away from people, family, friends, Church, work, and school, in a situation so outside of our regular life that it has rocked us to our very core. Our very need for people, for community is asserting itself.
Our actions have a ripple effect, sometimes effecting things in ways we cannot predict, control, or even understand. Our actions are influenced by experience, events, words, thoughts, images. We as human beings are often deeply moved and act in beautiful ways. We as human beings are often deeply moved and act in seriously ugly, painful ways. When people do things we don’t like, don’t agree with, think are bullying, bad, intentionally mean there is a strong desire to correct that behavior with our words and actions. And it is easy, so easy to join the crowd in letting someone know what we think rather than engaging in a conversation to discover what’s going on, or why they believe the things they do, or ________________.
It’s so difficult knowing that my own will is not always exercised in a way that honors God and thereby honors others or myself. While giving consideration to writing this post speaking of free will an experience keeps coming to mind. One where I was dismayed by someones words actions and know that said and did the right thing. It’s not about me though. I don’t want to publicly puff up myself, put a little spit polish on my cheeks, and say “Look at how good I am”. Because I also know sometimes I do and say stupid, potentially hurtful things. I don’t want to blow this stuff off.
Our society is having a very difficult, ugly, painful moment, again, still. We have forgotten, lost sight of, is that the very definition of LOVE is willing the good of the other. Jesus modeled this to his death. I am praying that we might rend our hearts, take a long look at our words, and actions and how they effect others. I’m praying that we might give consideration to listening more, reflecting more. Acting with generosity and kindness, treating others with the dignity and respect they deserve as human beings.
Have mercy on us Lord, have mercy.