At 8:00 AM the day is already hot and sultry. Even though I am preoccupied with the discomfort of the humidity, I am aware of fragrances. There’s the sweetness of the honeysuckle and roses, a hint of lavender, a bit of mint. Stopping, I rub a mint leaf with my fingers, then smelling the tips of my fingers, I am cooled and refreshed. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch movement as I begin to walk by the grapevines on the south side of the church. It’s a bunny! He is slightly turned and, with one eye, is intently watching me. When I get to about 3 feet from him, he bounces forward a few yards, and then stops. Sitting very still, he continues to monitor me with one eye. Again, I get closer to within a couple feet of him, and, again, he hops ahead. This happens several times until he darts into the marsh shrubs and disappears. Was this a game of catch-me-if-you-can? Who was teasing who? Was this a picture of my relationship with God?
The late afternoon sun on the grape vines caught my eye. The vines somehow looked “contented” – contented just to be vines basking in the afternoon sun. Clearly this was a “no stress” zone. They weren’t worrying about a thing – not about how much fruit they would produce, or if they would produce more than the vine to the left or the right. They weren’t worrying about having enough water or whether the vine dresser was happy with them. No, they appeared to be living in peace, thriving in the warm sunshine. “Nice work, if you can get it”, I thought to myself. Perhaps we should all apply to be vines…
My last posting showed you grape vines fastened to the horizontal wires that will support the vines and grapes as they grow. Now the buds on the vines have sprouted and begun their growth toward maturity. Out of each bud comes a complete vine in miniature, with leaves and clusters that are shaped like their final form, but much smaller. The leaves will grow to convert sunlight energy into sugar. The tiny clusters will first grow into blossoms and then into grapes, which will store the sugar. The additional weight of the grapes will turn the clusters down rather than being upright, as seen in this picture. How marvelous is God’s creation. Can you imagine designing something like a grape vine?
Many empty spaces at the Community of Jesus are planted with grape vines. Their fruit is destined for wine at Eucharist services. Notice how two shoots from each vine have been fastened to the horizontal wires. All extra shoots have been removed so that the vine can concentrate on growing grapes, not leaves. Sometimes God has to prune our lives in a similar fashion.