Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Autumn at Hopeful Dog Vineyard

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.

I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.
John 15: 1-9 The Message

I wish you a wonder-full Wednesday, y'all!
Love, Becky


Susie said...

one of your best posts yet! you minister to my heart!

jama said...

Beautiful post, Becky! I'm quite nourished by your grape vines.

I also note that Tanner has an unusually gigantic tongue :). . .

Michelle DeRusha said...

You always have a great metaphor to offer, Becky -- appreciate that about your writing, and you!

Faith Hope and Cherrytea said...

oh to remember that Holy Spirit is the producer of that fruit..
and how much better we look when we do bear {Holy Spirit's} Fruit :)

Anonymous said...

i got a kick out of the dog stash...
funny what a dog finds to be treasure.

Amy Sullivan said...

I love your vineyard! I love what you said about some of the branches refusing to quit.

Ronnie said...

Wonderful how nature inspires us. Beautifully expressed, as usual. Thanks, Becky.
Those vines have grown!

Unknown said...

oooh, I'm so jealous of your dog vineyard! I love all your pictures and Tanner is so funny. Our dog has a tendency to bury her stash--she especially loves to steal the kids' toys--in a secret hiding place in our backyard also. I fear I will never get rid of this bad habit of hers lol.

Anonymous said...

You got to stomp grapes? That is a dream of mine to do someday...
Vineyards are a wonderful illustration of Christian life and faith--thanks for the great meditation, Rebecca.

Karen said...

Hi Rebecca! I hopped over from Laura's Outnumbered Mom blog.

I want to thank your family for serving. Bless them.

Also I have a Golden. Aren't they fun? I love your words and thoughts. The pictures are great. I'm going to follow you, my new bloggie friend. :)

Unknown said...

This was beautiful! Thank you for sharing this! I needed to read this today :)

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Becky, this is yet another beautiful post. Every time I read your posts, these fleeting thoughts, I see them as works of art. Your way with words and taking your thoughts and turning them into something meaningful really is a cut above the rest. I see tremendous things in your future as you continue to use this gift.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Love to you all for joining me in the vineyard. :)

Nick said...

Good Lord, is that a tongue hanging out that dog's mouth, or a table tennis bat?

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Ha ha, Nick. I would say the same thing to Tanner--"What a big tongue you have," and he'd say, "Better to eat all of Sam's Halloween candy with." Yes, he really did it. We found the sack out back by the grapes and a Hansel and Gretel trail of wrappers!

Susan said...

Beautiful post. One of my favorite passages and your photos were thought provoking by themselves. I had already grown misty before I even got to the scripture. Thanks.

P.S. That Tanner is such a funny doggy.

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

Beautiful! What a lesson in those little grapes. ;)

P.S. We had a black lab who loved to pick blackberries. Seriously, he knew which were ripe and would pick and eat them!

Jojo said...

Becky, I needed to read your passage. Thank you.

Daricia said...

thanks for another wonderful post, becky.