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“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. JOHN 15
Living on a Vineyard is a constant reminder of all the times vineyards are referred to in the Bible. Producing grapes takes a lot of time and a lot of energy, not to mention the right weather conditions. The hours that the workers spend pruning and tending the vines, and also the soil around the vines, makes me wonder how we ever get a bottle of wine for less than 200 dollars. Jesus says that He is the vine and we are the branches….proves to me just how strong His hold is on us is. According to real life, we actually need help to let go. Vines don’t just fall off on their own…they have to be cut off. The workers, “the monks” as I call them because they all begin their days in hoodies with their hoods up, go through the vineyard and cut away the extra growth in order for the vines to produce better fruit. I’ve also learned that it takes a pair of shears to actually remove a bunch of grapes from the vine. You cannot just pull off an entire bunch…a few grapes are easy …just to sample, but in order to take off an entire bunch, this requires a tool.
This got me thinking about being attached to the vine…
About bearing fruit.
And about how much I complain about the work it takes to bear fruit,
and how much whining I do when the Winemaker is actually doing some pruning.
So abiding in the vine…Jesus really holds on to us tightly…and also the fruit is connected strongly to the vine…and just how much fruit depends upon the actual pruning of the vine. The folks here in Napa Valley take their pruning very seriously…so that the fruit is just right. The monks will come through and take off extra leaves from the vines so the sun hits the fruit just right. They even have a way now, to digitally gage just how much sap is flowing in the vines so that they will know when the vines need irrigation. They will also go through and actually cut away good fruit, or at least it looks really good to me, in order to have better fruit, the best most perfect grapes.
And there really is a cutting away of the old branches called canes. The monks come through and cut off all the canes, the branches, before the new growth begins. These piles of canes sit there for a few weeks in bunches, drying out and waiting til the monks return. When they come back in the early spring, they make bigger piles of branches and then they burn them. During this season you can see smoke throughout the Valley as this is happening in vineyards up and down Highway 29 and beyond. This year, on the vineyard where we live, the burning just happened to take place on Shrove Tuesday. So I had a front row seat in parable form ready for Ash Wednesday the next day. Large piles of smoking ashes burned from the cut away, useless branches of the grape vines…and I walked the dog through these ashes during most of Lent.
The grapes in our vineyard are all harvested, they are sorted and now are in large vats with good yeast, starting the long process of becoming wine. The vines around our house still have leaves, starting to fade from green to yellow and waiting for the winter rains and winds to begin to free them from their vines. The monks will come back to check on them and to start the process all over again, in the hope that the new growth, the new vines, will produce even better fruit in the coming year.