The World as Wheat

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I tried to paint the sound of the wind in the ears of wheat.
~Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to Paul Gauguin
WLANL_-_MicheleLovesArt_-_Van_Gogh_Museum_-_Ears_of_wheat,_1890
Ears of Wheat ~ Vincent Van Gogh 1890 in Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

There is nothing here but wheat, no blade
too slight for his attention: long swaying
brush strokes, pale greens, slithery yellows,
the hopefulness of early spring. All grass
is flesh, says the prophet. Here, there are no
gorgeous azures stamped with almond blossoms,
no screaming sky clawed with crows, no sunflowers
roiling gold and orange, impasto thick as Midi sunlight.
His brush herringboned up each stalk, the elemental
concerns of sun, rain, dirt, while his scrim of pain receded
into the underpainting. He let the wind play
through the stems like a violin, turning the surface
liquid, a sea of green, shifting eddies and currents.
No sky, no horizon; the world as wheat.
~Barbara Crooker, “Ears of Wheat, 1890” from 
Les Fauves

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I come from this – these green-ripening-to-amber wheat fields.
My mother was born nearly a century ago in a house built in a swale of these Palouse hills, where grain rose prolific each year from the soil.  Her father used horses and harvester over hill and dale to bring in the wheat, and piled it high in the local elevator until the train could pick it up.
My grandfather, grandmother, uncle and my mother are no more, now but dust, yet this land continues to produce and yield without their help.
When I return for a visit, I listen for what Van Gogh must have heard and seen in his own fertile land: the sound of the wind in the ears of wheat, the grain moving in waves across the landscape, the complexity of color of each individual stalk blending together to become an unending carpet undulating over the earth.
Yet to really take it in and not be overwhelmed, (to get out of the weeds, so to speak), I go high on the butte to see the world as wheat from above.  I then can imagine God’s own view of our grassy flesh which withers and fades away, as we shrivel in the sun and fall – yet the harvest of His Word endures forever.
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One thought on “The World as Wheat

  1. Yes, dear Emily. Treasured memories that nurture our present are indeed valuable. They help to create a sense of continuity from one generation to another and, as I perceive in Van Gogh’s artistic impression, honor the uniqueness of each individual and the important contribution that each makes.

    ‘…the harvest of His Word endures forever.’ It never alters or changes in any way from what we believe was His original meaning. Translations change to fit modern lexicons and idiomatic cultural differences. Accurate, sincere exegesis helps us to understand the meaning for us two millennia later. In that important sense, then, His Word truly is His Living, Breathing, Eternal Gift to us – His Presence among us to guide, teach, protect through His indwelling Spirit.

    Like

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