Sticking to the path
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NRSV
Vineyards (collectively) in the U.S. make around $1.4 billion annually. Some produce wine. Some sell to wineries. Some do a little of both. Making wine is a big business.
I recently went on a trip where I toured a few vineyards. The landscape was beautiful. And the education was fascinating.
One of the phrases I learned was “fruit forward flavor.” It seemed to be a term that most of the tour guides used. I was surprised to learn some of the techniques they used to get this flavor out of the grapes.
I didn’t pay much attention to the technicalities. I was there for the views, the company, and the tastings. But at one particular location we got a walking tour. Our guide showed us how tall they let the vines grow. He said they prune the vines when they get a little over 5 feet tall. That forces the flavor into the grapes lower on the vine.
We saw an irrigation system and asked about watering. He said that they only water in the first few years of the growing process, before the vines produce grapes they can use. The system stays there in the event of a disease that might spread but otherwise they stay pretty hands off. Wine is good when the vine struggles. Lazy vines make lazy grapes with very little fruit forward flavor.
At this point, I started taking notes.
When I struggle (and that’s more often than not), I feel like a failure. I feel like I’m doing something wrong and therefore I’m letting others, myself, and God down. Intellectually I know this isn’t true. I know that if you don’t struggle, you don’t learn and you don’t grow. But I’m still not used to that uncomfortable feeling in my gut telling me that I’m doing something wrong.
This season of life seems so hard right now. Nothing trains you for a post (current?) pandemic world so every single day is a day to decide what I’m going to prune and what fruit I’m going to put my energy towards. At times I want to quit. To start over. To forge a new path. Sometimes that is more enticing than tending to the path I’m already on.
But a new path won’t bear fruit as quickly or if it does, there’s a high likelihood it won’t have a fruit forward flavor. Lazy vines produce lazy grapes. But vines that struggle and survive bear fruit that people take trips across the country for.
So I’ll keep at it. And now I’ll praise the struggle. And look forward to fruit.
Until Everyone Hears,
It’s worth the struggle, Dr. K. Keep up the good growing.