The Mulberry Tree

A postcard for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost 10/02/22.
Pictured: The Mulberry Tree in Autumn, by Vincent Van Gogh at the Norton Simon Museum.

I don’t know much about mulberry trees, but when I read this week’s gospel, I had a particular mulberry tree in mind.

Several years ago, while visiting the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA, I got to see Vincent Van Gogh’s The Mulberry Tree in Autumn. It is a relatively small painting in a large ornate frame. It was painted at the end of Vincent’s life while living in an asylum in Saint-Remy.

While in Saint-Remy, Vincent continued to paint everything: doctors, hallways, flowers, fields, and trees. In this painting, Vincent paints a single mulberry tree visible from his window. Vincent applied thick strokes of paint that created a three-dimensional image. Vincent was very pleased with this particular painting. He wrote about it three times in letters to his brother and sister, commenting that he believed it was the best of his mulberry tree paintings.

Vincent’s use of paint renders an ordinary mulberry tree into an extraordinary painting. Through it, we experience not just the image of a particular tree but are invited into Vincent’s feeling and experience of color. In his parables, Jesus ofter takes the ordinary to invite us into the experience of the extraordinary.

A sermon for St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Roanoke, Alabama, on the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/02/22:

Principal text: Luke 17:5-10

Audio only

Coming next

  • October 9 – Messiah, Heflin — 18th Sunday after Pentecost
  • October 16 – Messiah, Heflin — 19th Sunday after Pentecost
  • October 23 – Off
  • October 30 – St. Michael’s, Faunsdale — 21st Sunday after Pentecost

Published by akhudlow

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama. I am a church nerd, printmaker, storyteller, and blogger.

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