There is something spiritual about grapes and grapevines. Maybe it’s because of all those biblical references with which I am so familiar. Nevertheless, I always associate grapes with fruitfulness in life.
Five years ago, I chose the sunniest spot in my back yard to plant three grape vines. I looked forward to all the grape jelly I would produce for friends and family. As they grew, it took some effort to keep them from intertwining with our neighbour’s Virginia creeper, weaving its aggressive way all over the fence that straddles our property. I weeded the grapevines, I staked them, I tried to make them love me enough to bear fruit, but they never did. And, in typical “object lesson” fashion, their lack of fruitfulness seemed to mirror the unfruitfulness I’ve felt in my own life in the last five years.
So, after awhile, I forgot about them. I’m no gardener anyway, I reasoned. Year after year, my interest continued to dwindle and by this summer, I never even looked at them once.
Until last week. I was cleaning my vehicle in the driveway on Labour Day while my husband mowed the lawn. When he finished, he tapped me on the shoulder. “What do you want to do with the grapes?” he said. “They’re ripe.”
I frowned. “Grapes? What grapes?”
He smiled. “Our grapes—on the back fence. They’re loaded.”
I was amazed to see that despite being almost overtaken by Virginia creeper and morning glory, those three vines had produced an incredible amount of fruit.
I stared at the small purple bunches in my hands and thought about the new job I was about to begin the next day, and some writing projects I’ve been dying to birth, and I got a little weepy. I couldn’t help but think the fruit was a sign of good things to come. Maybe I was going to bear fruit this year, too.
As I gleefully gathered up every ripe grape, I realized the vines had supplied in their time, and without much help from me. They supplied even in the midst of great choking interlopers, fighting for space and sunshine. They supplied even though I had lost faith in them.
I think there are seasons in life when nothing seems to be happening. Perhaps you’ve experienced this, too. Seasons when there is plenty of sowing, and tending, and weeding, and dreaming of the harvest to come, but there’s no physical sign of it. After a while, you doubt the harvest will ever come. You convince yourself that your labour is all for nothing. It takes wisdom, trust and maturity to appreciate the quiet months and years of preparation, so when the harvest comes, you’re ready.