Though the past few days have boasted cool spring temperatures, the sunshine and breeze have beckoned me outdoors just the same. Every time I walk, something that I have failed to notice hundreds of times before stands out. I should be accustomed to these little interludes with my neighborhood environment. Still, these phenomena never fail to inspire me.
This morning, it was an archway trellis which caught my eye. Actually, it was the rambling mass of lilac branches at the top of the trellis that demanded my attention. You see, the trellis is just about the width of a typical doorway, but the lilac growth spewing from its top reaches out three feet in every direction. It seemed to me that this poor trellis was doomed to fall over in the next big wind until I looked more closely. It was then that I saw the amazingly thick trunks of two lilac bushes which flank each side of the trellis. “No wonder it can stand,” I told myself, “and no wonder the lilac blooms are so beautiful and too numerous to count. They’re getting plenty of support and plenty of nourishment from those sturdy trunks.” As I looked further, I also saw that the branches atop that trellis were tightly woven together. Not a one would be displaced by the wind because the branches held one another in place. As I pondered this, I paused a while longer to enjoy the lilacs’ fragrance.
I returned to my walk most grateful for this encounter with another of God’s wonders. I turned my eyes upward and whispered, “Thank you, Lord, for revealing yourself to me once again.” I walked under numerous trees, past thriving bushes and budding perennials. As I continued, I realized that the amazing lilac crown which adorned that trellis wasn’t the only recipient of nourishment and support to be found along the way. Every tree, bush and plant which I passed boasted leafy branches that complemented and supported one another. Each one flourished in the water and minerals so generously supplied by the vines and trunks and roots which fed them and anchored them safely in the soil. Each one also basked in the sunshine lavished upon them from above. On the way home, I happily absorbed the sunshine as well as it overpowered the lingering spring chill in which I had started this walk. I also took another look at that lilac-crowned trellis, still mesmerized by its ability to stand.
When I came inside, I traded my shoes for my slippers and sat at my desk to peruse John’s gospel (15:1-8) in preparation for this writing. It was then that I realized the depth of the gratitude that prompted the prayer of thanks I uttered as I walked away from that trellis. You see, John tells us that Jesus likens himself to a vine and he likens God to a vine grower. Jesus adds that this vine grower provides everything that is necessary to allow this precious plant to flourish. Jesus goes on to liken his disciples –you and me– to the branches that spring forth from him. “Wow,” I tell myself as I envision that trellis once again. This encounter with God’s greenery compels me to carry Jesus’ metaphor a step further.
I would like to think that each of us has some awareness of God’s sustaining power. Whether it is our next breath or the touch of a gentle breeze, God provides all that we need. To be certain that we understand the workings of God’s nurturing ways, Jesus walked among us to explain this through his every word and deed. God’s Holy Spirit followed to seal the deal by demonstrating that God actually dwells within each of us. Our vine dresser not only provides for us, but also remains connected to us though Jesus and the Spirit. Our part in all of this is to mingle and to intertwine and to become woven together. As we bear fruit amd flourish together, we support one another and keep one another anchored safely to the Vine who sustains us all.
If you question the value of your presence to those around you, consider that lilac-laden trellis. Just a few snips would dislodge branches and upset the amazing network that allows its top-heavy lilac growth to stand. God created each one of us with the means to nourish and to support one another as only we can. So it is that we follow Jesus’ lead and do just that. Everyone connected to us depends on it!
©2012 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved