Van Gogh and the WILDEST Gifts in the Cosmos

Jan 27, 2022 | Adam Trufant

Dave Trufant gives legendary talks at our Sunday morning Chapel. Chosmen of all generations can attest to this! He relates simple, timeless wisdom with a certain “BOING!” that only “the Dave” can do. His joy is infectious and his talks leave the young men lighthearted, hopeful, and a little bit more comfortable in their own skin, as well as more inclined toward answering the many “knocks” we may receive on the door of our hearts throughout life. One of his more beloved talks revolves around, of all people, Vincent Van Gogh.

Dave shares about Van Gogh’s famous “Starry Night”; a moody, dark, and beautiful painting, “Starry Night” has swirling and distressed characteristics that mirror the tumultuous inner life of the painter himself. “You can learn a lot about the Creator by looking at his creation”, Dave says. “Much of Van Gogh’s inclinations and personality come out on the canvas. And this is how it is with the created world. You can see God’s heart in the majesty and beauty of his creation!”

And isn’t this at least partially evident to all of us? When the vast wilds of the natural world are before us, we can learn something of the heart of God. Consider for a moment the images of dawn’s first light hitting the Grand Canyon, a summer thunderstorm rolling through the Appalachians, the plains of the Serengetti bursting with wildlife, the rocky faces of the Himalaya visible from the south Asian rice fields, the sights and sounds of waves curling onto sand, the infinite wonders of the milky way, etc. The wonder available to us in this marvelous cosmos is staggering. A glance across our world alone brings a soul to its knees in awe.

What’s more is how God’s beauty and majesty are revealed in our abilities to love and be loved. If mountains and sea shores inspire us to wonder, how much more so the wilds of the human heart? A sunset over the French Riviera may take our breath away, but how much more so the Emancipation Proclamation, the stooping figure of Mother Teresa lifting a beggar from the street, the laughter of a family between Christmas carols, the vow to be faithful “til death do us part”, the fall of the iron curtain, and humble songs of worship rising from neighborhood Churches. These and so many countless other particular moments throughout history bring into focus the beauty of our hearts, the joy that is spread when we witness love in action, when we see someone helping others “at some cost to themselves” as our camp prayer puts it. In these moments, we see the Creator in his creation. We see the Family resemblance, God’s smile on his children’s faces.

Van Gogh was just as imperfect as the rest of us, but God’s beauty was nonetheless revealed through his many gifts. Each and every one of us represents some unique, unrepeatable stroke from the loving Artist’s hand. YOU are God’s greatest and wildest gift! When we look at you, we see HIM! This is what it means to “pull out the Gold” as we speak so often about at camp, to behold another and let our eyes adjust to see their Family resemblance, to witness their gifts in action and share what you see. When we know where we come from, pulling out the gold is easy. You’re simply shining a light without being afraid of what you’ll find; you know you will find nothing but the unshakeable goodness that the Lord put in every single heart of his children.

This is what we’re about at Kahdalea and Chosatonga – SEEING with new eyes the gift and beauty of each individual person, celebrating their gifts, calling these gifts forth, and empowering our camp family to live a life of radical freedom through which they serve the needs of their neighbors. As Dave would say, it’s a wonderful life 🙂