lessons learned: grapes and intentionality

This morning, at our Celtic service, I preached on the next in the I Am series:  I Am the True Vine.  I was delighted that this one happened to come my way as it was a perfect opportunity for me to revisit this post and give the congregation a good laugh as well as an intentional “aha” moment.  While the message focused more on God as the true vine, and our need to trust God to help us prune away the things that distract us or keep us busy, I did refer to this meditation.  In particular, the importance of being intentional in our faith lives so we can continue to grow.  ~cameron

Several years ago, I decided I wanted to try my hand at grapes.  As you may have read in previous posts, every year, I pick out a new vegetable or fruit and see if it will thrive in our part sun/part shade gardening space.  Sadly, I have discovered more times than not that in spite of trying and hoping for some our favorite edibles, we just do not have the right conditions to nurture growth.

As a child, I lived next door to a very sweet older woman whose former husband had planted several kinds of grapes in her backyard.  He had selected different varieties and instead of one long horizontal trellis, he had trained each of them on their own horizontal bars with stakes at each end.  By the time we were old enough to play hide and seek, they became coveted hiding spots.

In the summer, however, they filled with ripe green and purple fruit.  Large bunches caused the vines to droop a bit, and we would pick and eat until our shirts were covered in sticky juice.  My favorite was the Scuppernongs which required a bit of skills–their tough outer skin wasn’t so much for eating, but if you bit into it just right, the sweet treasure inside would burst forth in your mouth and fill it with intense flavor.  My sister and I would then have a contest as to who could spit the skin the farthest.

And so, with those memories tucked away in my soul, I decided I wanted grapes.

At the local hardware and garden store, I came across 4 plants that looked about right, and I brought them home, staked them up and waited.  I knew it would take a couple of years as, like blueberries, they need a season or two to strengthen before producing fruit.

By year three, I moved them as a part of the whole “let’s maximize the sun and space we have” spring-summer of 2012.  They grew lush and green and produced plenty of leaves, but no grapes.  No worries–I’d read where some vines can take as many years to produce fruit.

As summer turned into autumn then winter then spring, I let the vines grow, twist, and curl.  Who needed to prune?  In 2013, I was all about letting Nature take her course.

And she did–without grapes.

Given all the rain, tomato blight, and unfavorable conditions last year, I had put all my hope in a few things around the farm.  When the grapes didn’t come, I resigned myself to having a beautiful border vine without further expectation for food.

And then this past winter, it dawned on me.  Perhaps it was time to be more intentional about the care and energy I was putting into those sweet things.  Perhaps by “letting them go,”  I had actually let them go.  How would I get them back?

Sometimes, in our lives, we get to a place where we can just coast.  It’s comfortable, especially after seasons of being transplanted or experiencing unfavorable conditions, it feels good to just let ourselves go for a bit.

But after awhile, we find that we stop growing, we stop learning, we stop discovering.  Being intentional about our spiritual life is critical to moving ahead on our journey.  Sometimes, we need to stop and prune away the old to make way for the new or perhaps we need to read up on new spiritual practices so that we can bear the fruit we need to sustain us.20140504-131429.jpg

So, in hopes of moving forward this year with a bountiful harvest, I spent time reading about tending to grapes back in January.  In March, I carefully spent time pruning this way and that to support new growth.

My efforts were not in vain!  I am happy to report that after returning home from a trip to Wisconsin, I discovered small buds appearing on various tendrils.

And you better believe that I am filled with wonder about experiencing the next steps on this delightful journey.

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