When he was a young man, Vincent Van Gogh served as a missionary among coal miners in Belgium. The experience left him with a deep admiration for the working poor. Even though they were mostly theologically illiterate, and did not practice religion as the church thought they should, Van Gogh saw in them a simple, yet profound faith, that he had not himself experienced.
In 1882 Van Gogh did a drawing of an old peasant man sitting in a chair beside a fire, his face buried in his hands. We don’t know if his posture is the result of exhaustion, grief, or simply reflection, but we do know that he is praying since Van Gogh entitled the drawing, ‘At Eternity’s Gate.’ He wrote to his brother about the drawing, ‘The poorest little wood-cutter or peasant or miner can have moments of emotion and inspiration which give him a feeling of an eternal home to which he is near.’
I am reminded that in scripture it is often the marginalized and the ignored who recognize and plead for God’s powerful presence in their lives. This morning in Luke 18.35-43 I read the story of the blind beggar of Jericho who, in recognizing his profound need, cried out to Jesus for healing. Simple, heart-felt prayers to our heavenly Father draw us toward ‘eternity’s gate’ as well. We never outgrow these simple prayers of true dependency to our Divine Parent who has compassion on us all.