By Sherry Hougard
Early this year when I was on a walkabout in wine country, I had mile after mile of quiet solitude to ponder and reflect. As I walked through the hillside vineyards, it was interesting to see the thousands of individual plants that all have to be meticulously tended by the growers every year. It is a job done with the care, attention and intention that comes from pride and a sense of investment and ownership.
I had a strong sense of how this season of the year played into the calendar for those who have lived and worked in these fields for generations. The weather was damp and cold. The vines were all bare. Looking across the patchwork hillsides, I could spot a lone van here and there and a single man clipping and pulling at the tangled vines. Rows of plants on one side of the path had been pruned and the old tangled vines from last season’s growth had been cut back and cleared out. On the other side of the path were plants which hadn’t been cleaned out yet. I wondered how long it took these growers to tend to each one of their plants and have them all ready for the new Spring growth.
I thought about the tangled messes in my life and about the One who carefully and attentively prunes and clears out the dead wood in me. Unlike the vines though, I have some choice. Have I made myself available to be pruned and cleared out? Have I asked my Tender to make room in my life and heart and mind for new growth? It actually doesn’t even occur to me most of the time that there are old habits, thought patterns, sore feelings and other baggage that need to go. Maybe I’m just so used to them being a part of me that I haven’t realized that they are dead wood. They produce nothing good and stand in the way of new growth.
Oh Lord, my Gentle Tender, tug on those tangled, dead pieces that need to come apart from me so that new, healthy things can grow and bring good fruit in this next season. I am willing. May your care and attention, ownership and investment in my life fill me with joy and gratitude and a peace-filled attitude that produces good, healthy, useful fruit.