Welcome to Autumn at Hopeful Dog Vineyard.
In case you're new around here, we don't really have a vineyard. Just this row of muscadines lining our backyard.
And here's the hopeful dog.
He's hoping you have a treat for him in your pocket.
A cracker, maybe? Anything?
Back to the vineyard.
I wouldn't have thought much was going on back there now.
After all, we've picked the grapes. We ate a few bowlfuls and washed and stomped the rest. Then we put the juice up to ferment until bottling time next summer.
The leaves are turning and dropping, and the only grapes left are becoming raisins in the sun.
But The Hopeful Dog has taken to stashing his trash under the grapevines up the hill, so yesterday I took a garbage bag with me and went trash collecting. There was a lot to gather: a bag of beef jerky he stole from Ben, a plastic peanut butter jar he nabbed off the kitchen counter, an old container of Parmesan cheese he swiped from our spaghetti dinner last week.
But after I collected it all, I turned my attention to the grapes.
What a shock!
The vine was busy doing things.
Who would have thought that at the same time that some leaves were bleeding out their colors, shriveling into papery bat wings...
some branches would refuse to quit, sending out a tender shoot to look for the sun,
unfurling baby leaves with its last breath.
While inches away, higher on the vine, a cluster of grapes refuses to fall.
I understand the grapes.
My leaves might turn speckled, then brittle and brown, but I wouldn't want to let go. I'd hold on.
Like the tiny tendrils gripping the guide wire, winding themselves in tight coils around it.
If I were a branch on the master vine, that's what I'd probably do.
"Go for the sun!" the vine would say, but I'd wave my hands around, reaching for something to hold to steady me. A safe spot. Security.
I'd wind myself tight around the Master Vine.
Can't I just live this way?
Do I have to let go?
The vine says nothing.
It just stands there in its beautiful twistedness, and holds up the branches.
It feeds them, and in its woundedness, it gives them life.
I touch the knots, run my fingers over the woody scabs.
Is there life under dry bark?
I know there is because I've seen what the Vine does each Spring.
I remember. Beneath the gnarled wrapping, green life surges.
It's waiting for the right time, the right season.
Somehow it knows.
I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
John 15: 1-9 The Message
I wish you a wonder-full Wednesday, y'all!