Words of Hope: The Greatest Work of Art

Our family had our nightly mealtime conversation and Bella, my youngest, offered up the elegant question for the night. She asked, “In what design or work of art that you have encountered lately do you see God speaking to you?” What a glorious question! My husband Shann answered by reading the perfect prose of one of the world’s greatest living writers and talked about the exquisite beauty and power of words. Bella shared her love for Monet and the emotion he evokes in his pieces that remind her of tenderness, gratitude, and how love shapes our lens of the world.  

I have been listening to the origin of Venice. St. Mark’s Basilica houses the remains of St. Mark who was martyred in Alexandria, stolen, and reburied in Venice. The Basilica has enough mosaic tile to cover one and a half American Football fields, many covered in real gold. I think of the craftsmen who spent their entire lives dedicated to making a place of worship their greatest life endeavor.  

Van Gogh said, “The greatest work of art is to love someone.” I consider this in my life. What is art? Look at this gorgeous definition: “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” Does the love I show my family have creative skill and imagination? Is my love visible to my family or friends? Can they appreciate the beauty and emotional power of my love for them?  

Dad loved people well under this definition. He was creative with the way he showed love to our family. He used his imagination to create moments of connection and meaning. He demonstrated his love in visible ways—celebrating us, calling us, spending time with us, writing us letters, notes, texts, and leaving messages. His love was uniquely beautiful to witness and full of emotional power.  

I notice that I can go on autopilot with love for my family and friends and not think about loving them like an artist would dedicate themselves. I can shortchange love. I can skate by on mediocre interactions at times. I want to be a love artist like my dad. Dad followed the example of who Van Gogh calls the world’s greatest artist—Jesus. Van Gogh writes: 

“Christ alone, of all the philosophers, magicians, etc., has affirmed eternal life as the most important certainty, the infinity of time, the futility of death, the necessity and purpose of serenity and devotion. He lived serenely, as an artist greater than all other artists, scorning marble and clay and paint, working in the living flesh. In other words, this peerless artist, scarcely conceivable with the blunt instrument of our modern, nervous and obtuse brains, made neither statues nor paintings nor books. He maintained in no uncertain terms that he made…living men, immortals.”