From Vincent Van Gogh

Many a man has a bonfire in his heart and nobody comes to warm himself at it. The passers-by notice only a little smoke from the chimney, and go their way… I am drawn more to the conclusion that to love much is the best means of approaching God. Love a friend, any one, or anything you like, and I tell you, you will be on the right road to learn more. You must love with a high and intense determination, with your will and intellect, and seek always to deepen, expand and improve your knowledge, for that way lies God. If a man loves Rembrandt profoundly, then in his heart of hearts he knows God. Another man may study the history of the French Revolution, and he will not be a sceptic, for he will feel the power that shapes our ends. If you have attended the free lectures at the College of Misery, for a short time even, and have paid attention to what you have seen with your own eyes and heard with your own ears, you will reap a firm faith and learn more than you can express in words. He that hath eyes to see, let him see. Afterwards you can be a little abstracted at times, and dream awhile. I know that some become too abstracted, too dreamy, and it may quite well happen to me one of these days. They say the dreamer falls sometimes into the well, but afterward he climbs up again.

– Vincent Van Gogh (July 1880)
In Statements and Documents: Artists on Art and Reality, on Their Work, and on Values © 1960 American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.