Van Gogh

One year ago today, I published my first post, called prayer.

As the title suggests, it was an act of faith—a voice in the dark asking, “who’s there?”

I would write that it seems like just yesterday when that post pronounced its “hello” to the web world, but it doesn’t. On the contrary, it feels like I’ve been doing this all my life, which is a credit to you, the reader, whose support has made us neighbors no matter the distance of fiber optic cable between us.

When I searched my memory for a fitting expression of thanks and gratitude, I remembered something I read of Vincent Van Gogh’s a few years ago.

Van Gogh is too often remembered as a bloody ear. The singular event confines him to the stereotypes of a tortured genius. If you read his words, he is not as misunderstood.

My favorite Van Gogh painting. “The Siesta.” 1889.

He was an incredibly patient man and not prone to violent outbursts. He describes his art in beautiful prose as an internal journey of the soul. This particular excerpt is from a letter he wrote to his brother Theo not long after he left the seminary to commune with God through art.

The thought relates exactly to what I’ve experienced staking the Miracle of the Mundane’s humble internet territory:

There may be a great fire in our soul, but no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a little bit of smoke coming through the chimney and pass on their way. Now, look here, what must be done, must one tend that inward fire, have salt in oneself, wait patiently yet with how much impatience for the hour when somebody will come and sit down near it—to stay there maybe? Let him who believes in God wait for the hour that will come sooner or later.”


My hour came 365 days ago.

Writing is the bedrock of the life I’ve built in my 9 years clean and sober. A life that includes teaching literature, writing for my city’s paper, marrying a passionate and caring woman, coaching American football, and, most recently, starting a website.

Navigating the internet recovery world and writers community has changed everything.

I spent 7 years writing feverishly but sharing nothing. I was in a cave, tending my fire as Van Gogh put it. With my busy schedule, I never thought I’d be able to participate in any sort of writers community. Or to use Van Gogh’s metaphor, I never imagined someone would warm themselves by my fire. Were it not for modern technology, I may have spent my life tending that flame, waiting for that hour to come. Instead, 

I shared my fire, and you poured kerosene on it.

Thank you.

May the fire rage on.


27 Responses to “Van Gogh

  • Mark Decker (Sr)
    1 year ago

    Profound window into the soul of an awesome young man…………(speaking of you, Mark)

  • Thank you. Congratulations on your writing anniversary! Keep those fires burning.

  • The world’s a much richer place with you writing in it. – DDM

  • A year ago was your first post, I find that amazing. I guess I always thought that this was something you had been doing forever and had never given it much thought beyond that. Simply because you do it so well Mark. Just a natural God given ability that seems to flow out of you with such ease. Your changing lives my brother and helping to heal the brokenhearted keep a the good work. It’s an honor and a privilege to call you my friend and to have your support. You are a role model my friend and I hold you in the highest regard, be blessed my brother.

    • Thank you for that kind feedback, Marc. We’re on this road together. It’s a pleasure to share the journey with you. You make it feel so natural, like it’s what all that suffering was for. And that is a really powerful thing, I think. Looking forward to catching more from you at Unsensored too.

      • Thank you Marc I appreciate that, and yes I do believe it’s what all that suffering was for both past and any to come. I figure it has to be, if not then it was all just a waste. If nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake then it only seems logical too me that it was intended to help others even though it hurt myself. With that I find my meaning and my purpose and a strength that allows me to endure and eventually rise above anything that life may bring my way. I think the attitude I have towards it all is in itself a spiritual gift because It wasn’t always this way. I’m blessed for it and hopefully somebody else will be by it. Thanks for all your support brother I so look up to you, and kip and Chris. You are all true men who I hope to one day be like. I love you man, be blessed.

  • So thankful for you! Always a piece of wisdom -a spark- to take along on my personal, similar journey.

  • Penny G
    1 year ago

    I recently watched a film on Van Gogh. He was a a remarkable human. I love this illustration with words of the deepest feelings he was experiencing. Thank you for sharing this letter and your journey, I have appreciated the warmth.

    • You’re welcome! Thank you for reading.

      What movie did you watch? I highly recommend reading his letters!

  • The Van Gogh quote is amazing, I am so happy you made that connection and shared it. It couldn’t have come at a better time personally. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to travel this path – you are inspiring at least one man for certain.

  • You are an inspiration, Mark. I’m so glad to know you. What a year this has been; I’m looking forward to watching (and hopefully sharing in) you continued journey. Hearon

  • Well, everyone has already used all the words I was gonna, so…I have been blessed by your writing and your friendship. As a chronic cave-dweller, your fire moves me to venture out. You are a special guy, Mark, and of all the blogs I have stumbled upon, I’m so glad one was yours.

    • Thanks Abbie. Here’s a great word for us: troglodyte, one who dwells in a cave…haha

      • lol that is a spot on description, and not a word that you hear every day. All the funnier to me b/c my younger child refers to some of his classmates as such.
        I’m grateful to be on this voyage with the likes of you. ?

  • Gabriel Rheaume
    1 year ago


  • Hi Mark and a happy blogging birthday to you. The world’s a warmer place for the fire you burn and share. Love to you from The Sober Garden.

  • Congrats Mark. It is right and good to share your gift. <3
    Diana xo

  • Congratulations to you, Mark. Keep the fire going!

  • Always look forward to your posts, Mark, and you never fail to educate and enrich. Keep burning on brightly. Red xx

  • You say so much in so few words, Mark – the hallmark of a true and fantastic writer. I love the Van Gogh quote there, and I know that I am so very happy and blessed that you have shared the warmth of your work.

  • Love this Mark – I also find Vincent a genius remembered for one act (most likely completely misunderstood) of which he may have laughed and said “well damit, my girlfriend just wouldn’t listen so I got up and thought my ear my assist in this”

    OK I am not belittling mental illness, but come on, he was much much more than a guy with a missing ear.

    This made me laugh: “fiber optic cable between us” Most parts of NZ don’t yet have fiber optic, in some places it is buried in the ground “ready” but not connected.

    M x

    • I didn’t know that about NZ, interesting! And that’s the beauty isn’t it? Tribes no longer have to be geographic in nature.

      I’m laughing at want Van Gogh might have said! Haha. That’s awesome. And I agree with you. Somewhere in these comments is a worthwhile movie about him. Also, I definitely recommend reading his letters.

  • Hi Mark!
    I used to love teaching my little ones at school about Van Gough and his art.
    I had several books that the kids loved. (I can’t remember them, but I’ll try to find them.)
    They loved learning about real people, even at 5.
    We need to share what we learn and do.
    Otherwise, we keep that gift hidden.

  • While there’s a spark there will always be a fire. I always say put your hand out and someone will shake it. Congratulations on your first year blogging and keep sparking.

  • A little late, but happy bloggiversary! (Shhh.. don’t tell anyone but I made that word up!) Happy one year of blogging, we’re lucky to have you here with us 🙂

  • Wow I relate so much and my first post was around a year ago too! Congrats on everything!

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