I used to admire those verdant, lush grapevines, defiantly creeping over fences and barns, growing gigantic from years of neglect. Artistic and free, one has to marvel at their natural beauty; but when I began to focus on fruit production I learned to view all that greenery as a thief to the ultimate goal, sweet grapes. Sugar content is the key to good wine, and sweetness is what one hopes to experience when they crunch down on a grape.
What is the key to sweet grapes? Pruning. A farmer must regularly control the amount of vine and fruit produced in order to encourage the plant to focus energy on a few, good grapes. Even world class vines are limited to how much high quality fruit they can produce. If left to their own measures, they would grow too much vine and multiple clusters of grapes which would prove inferior to what they could produce when properly pruned.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2
Gardening tends to be a spiritual experience for me as I pray and listen to God while cultivating this raw, beautiful land. This may explain the tears spilling as I prune trees and vines- my Father is usually whispering profound and tender truths to me about the process I find myself so fascinated with, yet fearfully avoiding in my own life. I have to share with you what happened last month after I pruned this vine. It bled. A lot. As I walked past the vines a couple hours later, I noticed water quickly dripping out of all the cuts I had just made. My grapevine appeared to be weeping! This really struck a nerve, as I was crying when I made those cuts, the tear tracks still evident on my dirty face.
After cleaning tools, I anxiously searched the internet to see if I had harmed my vines and what I could do about it. The vintner we bought our vines from has many teaching videos and one of them explained that grapevines can bleed up to five gallons of water with no harm done! The bleeding is due to hydrostatic pressure in the vine as the roots are soaking up water from the ground. I breathed a sigh of relief and whispered to myself, “it’s ok to cry.” I may not enjoy the clip of God’s pruning shears, but I choose to trust His ways; I won’t be ashamed of the bareness this season entails, or fear the flow of tears. Summer will come and the fruit will be sweet.