Reflections about new and old, aged and young.

Today I begin a new life. Today I shed my old skin which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure and the wounds of mediocrity. Today I am born anew and my birthplace is a vineyard where there is fruit for all. — Og Mandino

For I am full of words,
and the spirit within me compels me;
inside I am like bottled-up wine,
like new wineskins ready to burst.
— Job 32:18-19

Then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. — Deuteronomy 11:14

‘Israel will live in safety; Jacob will dwell secure in a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew.’ — Deuteronomy 33:28

‘May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine.’— Genesis 27:28

SONGS about WINE:

NEW WINE — Deakin Dixon

Black grape, black grape,
On the hillside growing clean;
Round grape,
Thick stem,
Curled green.

You were young snd green and tight,
Virgin blushing with the sun,
You have done what I have done,
Lain with summer,
Sweet and supple,
Yielded, given maidenhead,
While you lay in summer’s bed.

Black and golden,
Blue and purple,
Now you stand upon the vine,
Waiting for strong hands to make you
Into wine.

COMMENTARY on WINE

Wine has kind of like a binary moral value for the Hebrew Bible authors … because it’s a gift to the garden, which means it’s good. Genesis 1, it’s good. Psalm 104 says, “God gives grass to the creatures and makes crops grow out of the ground and vine to give joy to the human heart.” Psalm 104. But then you know, the Proverbs will also say wine is a mocker and strong drink is a brawler. It’ll make you get into fights and get hurt and then not remember in the morning. So, just like anything that’s good, it can be taken one of two ways… So it’s another way that the tree [of life] represents a choice for people. There’s all these stories about often leaders who get drank… It’s just being the fruit of the vine tree… Just comparing those two things, like you can be filled with God’s Spirit, his wisdom… You can be under the influence of the Spirit, in which case you’ll have discernment to make wise choices that bring good to you and other people. And if your brain’s not working right, especially if you caused your brain not to work right [by drinking too much, for instance], you’re going to hurt yourself or hurt other people or both. And that’s the way of folly. Two different ways. It can gladden your heart and be a gift of God, because it tastes amazing, but it can also destroy you, like most good things in life.— The Bible Project podcast. See full text: https://d1bsmz3sdihplr.cloudfront.net/media/Podcast%20Transcripts/TBP%20Transcripts/Tree%20of%20Life_E10_Is%20the%20Tree%20of%20Life%20Practical%20Transcript.pdf

The WINE of LOVE — James Thomson

The wine of Love is music,
And the feast of Love is song:
And when Love sits down to the banquet,
Love sits long:

Sits long and ariseth drunken,
But not with the feast and the wine;
He reeleth with his own heart,
That great rich Vine.

POEM — Rumi

You shattered my cup.

You shattered my cage.

Light, feast, triumphant blessing,

friend, trickster, haven for my drunken heart,

you brought my spirit to a boil,

turned my grapes to wine.

you lit a fire to the fragrant wood

and body of song in me.

Watch the smoke rise.


POEM — Rumi

We are the mirror,
also the face in it.

Drunk from eternal wine,
we are also the cup we sip from.

We prevent illness;
we also cure it.

We are the water of life,
also the jar that pours it.

Using the Three “R”s to Understand a Mysterious Teaching — Unity.org. Full article: https://www.unity.org/article/how-stop-putting-new-wine-old-wineskins

How to Avoid Exploding Wineskins

The comparison is a very apt one when we think of the properties of wine and wineskins. When wine is new, it is in a state of fermentation. It bubbles and expands as the fermentation gases are released. A fresh, pliable wineskin can absorb such expansion and slowly age-with the wine until the fermentation process is complete.

To put fresh wine into an old wineskin, however, is asking for trouble. The old wineskin has assumed a definite shape and is no longer pliable. It is fixed and somewhat brittle. The activity of new wine will stress it beyond its ability to yield. And so both the wine and the skin are lost.

We can’t put new ideas into old mindsets. We can’t get new results with old behaviors.

For example, one of the most common resolutions, and one that gets broken most often, has to do with weight control. … What most of us fail to do is address permanent changes in our eating habits. Trying to put the new wine of a trimmer body into the old wineskin of established and ingrained poor eating patterns cannot bring lasting results.

Habits unchecked are stronger than conscious willpower every time. Only when we fully understand what is really going on at the level of unconscious behavior can we take control and bring willpower to bear.

How many times have we said something like “I’m tired of procrastinating. Beginning tomorrow I’m not putting things off any longer”?

And we try! But somehow tomorrow never quite comes …

How about, “I resolve that this new year will be my most prosperous and rewarding year ever.” … Chances are we are still holding on to some old wineskin ideas concerning our true source of abundance. We haven’t fully bought in to the concept of giving and receiving.

We can’t put new ideas into old mindsets. We can’t get new results with old behaviors.

So how do we get these new wineskins—these new minds out of which our new life will emerge? [With] three strong verbs, “Repent, Replace, and Relax.”Repent Means to Change Your Thinking

Repent means so much more than being conscience-stricken or contrite. The underlying Greek word is a form of metanoia, which means to undergo a fundamental change in one’s mind or character. Simply put, to repent is to change one’s thinking. Shift paradigms.

The apostle Paul grasped this well. To his friends in Rome, he said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12:2). And to those in Philippi, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

The way Jesus saw the world is crucial to understanding and living in the new paradigm, the new wineskin. Do we want prosperity? We can adopt the Jesus mind-set of an opulent universe. The old wineskin says that the harvest comes only at a certain time and in a certain way. The new wineskin of the Christ mind says, “But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting” (John 4:35) and “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap” (Luke 6:38).

The old paradigm says, “Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it!” The new paradigm says, “Ah, you’ll see it when you believe it!”

The essence of repentance is letting go of old, limited ideas and investing our belief in new, expansive ideas.

Here are some bold thoughts for your new future:

  • I am transformed by the renewing of my mind.
  • I have the mind in me that is also in Christ Jesus.
  • I lovingly release all old, unproductive thoughts and feelings and let them go.
  • I change my thinking now from lack to plenty, from illness to health, from the old me to the new me.
  • I joyfully welcome new ideas from the Christ mind in me, and I am transformed.

Replace with New Thoughts

Now let’s do some replacing, our second “R.” The Unity method of affirmative prayer can be very helpful here. We construct meaningful affirmations that keep our conscious mind interested and entertained and then we practice them repetitively so that our subconscious mind is impressed with the change.

Then start replacing the old lifestyle: My meals are healthy and balanced, and my exercise is sufficient. I am trimmer and fitter now.

Make sure that the two conditions in the affirmations are true, that your meals are healthy and balanced and that you are getting enough exercise. We can’t kid ourselves here. Such an affirmation keeps us conscious of our goal, and practice and repetition make it a habit.

As we replace old patterns with new ones and use them, not as temporary measures but as permanent changes, we become transformed. Our repentance takes on visibility.Then Relax About It

And now the third “R”—relax. Let the process work. Relaxing doesn’t mean going back to the old patterns. It means not worrying or straining for results. Don’t establish unrealistic time frames. It took us awhile to get this way, and it will take a while for changes to fully materialize.

Relaxing means to give things the light touch. It means not condemning the old concepts and behaviors. Just let them go. They have served their purpose of bringing us to this present moment.

Talk to your body and give it instructions to relax, beginning with the toes and working upward or with the scalp and working down. A regular period of time set aside for the purpose of relaxing can be of inestimable value for our bodies and our minds.Don’t Forget to Pray

It is always a good idea to surround the whole process of repenting, replacing, and relaxing with prayer. Spend time in the silence with the Lord of your being, your source of guidance and energy.

In the deep silence, you may tap into that vast, inexhaustible source of universal energy and become fully empowered to change your thinking and to begin replacing old, limited patterns of living with new, vital ones. You can change your thinking now from the old to the new, from the impossible to the possible, from the limited to the unlimited.

Meditations on figs and vines in scripture: themes from Taste & See that show up as images of peace, abundance, mercy, hope and justice.

We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond. — Gwendolyn Brooks

The result will be fruit that blesses the world and reveals us as … a community of love. Together, we are so much more powerful than any of us can be on our own. However, this “together” isn’t out there, on our own even as a community, because our life force flows from the vine with which we are one. — Kathryn Matthews

Joy and happiness, by definition, are the … fruits of wholesome actions. — Dalai Lama

Questions to consider when thinking about the use of vines and figs as images and references in scripture:

  • ‘Under vines and fig trees’ is a frequent image embodying peace and abundance, as a blessing from God, in Hebrew scriptures. (Ex: Deuteronomy 8:7-10 and 1 Maccabees 14:11-12). What landscape, site, or place symbolizes spiritual peace and wellbeing to you? Is it wild or cultivated? What would you do (or not do) there? How would it taste, smell and sound? What would it look like? How would it feel to your touch? Would you be alone or with other people? What gifts would such a site or place offer to you?
  • Vines and fig trees can be long-lived, and also imply interdependence (see John 15: 1-17). They may require patience and time and skill to cultivate (see Luke 13: 6-9). In what ways do you need to adopt a long-term, even multi-generational, and interconnected view of life and the world? In what ways do you already live out such a spiritual practice?
  • Gardening, herding, tending vineyards and orchards, fishing and farming have all been used as a Biblical metaphors for caring for self, community and world. What contemporary metaphor or story would you use to describe the role of caring for yourself, other people and/or the environment?
  • Which spiritual fruit (list from Galatians 5) — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — do you believe you have received? Which ones do you wish you had? Which ones are you trying to grow? What isn’t on this list of spiritual fruits, that you would add?

Time and the Garden (excerpt) — Yvor Winters
The spring has darkened with activity.
The future gathers in vine, bush, and tree:
Persimmon, walnut, loquat, fig, and grape,
Degrees and kinds of color, taste, and shape.
These will advance in their due series, space
The season like a tranquil dwelling-place.
And yet excitement swells me, vein by vein:
I long to crowd the little garden, gain
Its sweetness in my hand and crush it small
And taste it in a moment, time and all!
These trees, whose slow growth measures off my years …


The Worm’s Waking  — Rumi
      This is how a human being can change:
   there’s a worm addicted to eating grape leaves.
Suddenly he wakes up, call it grace, whatever,
something wakes him, and he’s no longer a worm.
He’s the entire vineyard, and the orchard too, the fruit, the trunks,
    a growing wisdom and joy that doesn’t need to devour.


What The Figtree Said (excerpt)— Denise Levertov
… I was at hand,
a metaphor for their failure to bring forth
what is within them (as figs
were not within me). They who had walked
in His sunlight presence,
they could have ripened,
could have perceived His thirst and hunger,
His innocent appetite;
they could have offered
human fruits—compassion, comprehension—
without being asked,
without being told of need.
My absent fruit
stood for their barren hearts. He cursed
not me, not them, but
(ears that hear not, eyes that see not)
their dullness, that withholds
gifts unimagined.

Of Figs & Vines

Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig. I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen. — Epictetus

We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne. — Marcus Aurelius

Eat figs! If I would say a certain type of fruit was sent down to us from the heavens I would say it’s a fig … — hadith of Prophet Muhammad (May Peace Be Upon Him)

Here it is in a nutshell: Old vines yield more concentrated fruit, resulting in richer wines with more sumptuous balance … Deep roots are a big asset too … — Beppi Crosario

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants – while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid. — George Washington

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy. — Benjamin Franklin

I swear by the fig and the olive. — Surah At-Tīn (the fig), Qur’an

Today I begin a new life. Today I shed my old skin which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure ans the wounds of mediocrity. Today I am born anew and my birthplace is a vineyard where there is fruit for all. — Og Mandino

A great fig should look like it’s just about to burst its skin. When squeezed lightly it should give a little and not spring back. It must be almost unctuously sweet, soft and wet. — Yotam Ottolenghi

Probably the most revered tree in the world is Ficus religiosa, the sacred Bodhi, also known as Bo (from the Sinhalese Bo) of Burma, Ceylon and India. Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, achieves enlightenment, or Bodhi, beneath this tree. It is said he sat under its shade for six years while he developed his philosophy of the meaning of existence. The term “Bodhi tree” is widely applied to existing trees, particularly the sacred fig growing at the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya in the Indian State of Bihar. — W.P. Armstrong

The fig tree appears repeatedly in both the Old and New Testament of the Bible … but it has been cultivated for much longer. Sumerian stone tablets dating back to 2500 B.C. record culinary use of figs, and remains of fig trees were found during excavations of Neolithic sites from 5000 B.C. Some historians consider it the first of the domesticated crops. Figs hold a position of symbolism in many world religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism, representing fertility, peace, and prosperity. Ancient Olympians earned figs for their athletic prowess, and Pliny the Elder extolled the fruit’s restorative powers. The prophet Mohammed reportedly identified the fig as the one fruit he would most wish to see in paradise.— Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

However, there is also a communal response. In the garden of our universe there is a fig tree we call planet Earth, Mother Earth, Home. … Now, the owner comes to us and warns us with messages such as the pending global warming reality or the gradual water shortage that Earth’s death is coming soon. The answer must now be a shift in our understanding of the place of the human within the community of all beings rather than in a dominating position. We are all one. How willing are we … to cultivate and fertilize this new way of understanding? … connecting with others to work together for “the fig tree’s one more year of life.” … means showing what it looks like to have a consciousness of the universal connectedness of all life in our everyday activities. The gardener knows there is something more that can be done in cultivating and fertilizing the tree … If that can happen, the tree will get another chance to bear fruit. Today, we are the gardeners (with) … a window of opportunity to take action for the life of this one place we call home. Individually, we may not think we can make a difference but collectively there is no question we can and we must take the actions we know are needed to transform our lifestyle from one of perhaps unconscious consumption and violent exploitation into one of reverence and nonviolence … taking action as individuals and more effectively as groups on the systemic level. — Mary Elizabeth Clark

Although commonly referred to as a fruit, the fig is actually the … scion of the tree, known as a false fruit or multiple fruit, in which the flowers and seeds are borne. It is a hollow-ended stem containing many flowers. — Jennifer, Vision & Thoughts blogger

Christian Commentary on Figs & Vines
The biblical quote “each man under his own vine and fig tree” has been used to denote peace and prosperity. — Jennifer, Thoughts & Visionsblogger

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome! — Martin Luther King

I am sure that in the story of Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit was a fig and not an apple, pear or anything else. — Yotam Ottolenghi

Some biblical scholars think the fig, and not the apple, was the forbidden fruit picked by Eve in the Garden of Eden. — W.P. Armstrong

The type of fig leaf which each culture employs to cover its social taboos offers a twofold description of its morality. It reveals that certain unacknowledged behavior exists and it suggests the form that such behavior takes. — Freda Adler

It is with good reason that God commanded Moses that the vineyard and harvest were not to be gleaned to the last grape or grain; but something to be left for the poor. For covetousness is never to be satisfied; the more it has, the more it wants. Such insatiable ones injure themselves, and transform God’s blessings into evil. — Martin Luther

In [Luke] the landowner has waited three years for fruit that didn’t appear, and still the gardener is willing and able to care for the [fig] tree and to intercede with the landowner to save it … Mercy is still possible. — Sarah Dylan Breuer

No one – but no one – plants a fig tree in their vineyard. A fig tree would consume too much ground water, the canopy would produce too much shade, and the fig tree would attract birds that would eat the grapes. So when you hear this story about a fig tree in a vineyard, you should be alert to the possibility that this story might have to do with something other than figs and grapes. Yet there is also grace entwined in the figs and vines … the grace that Jesus talks of come when we least expect it, in places we least expect, and from people we least expect. If you keep reading this section of Luke beyond what is presented today, you will hear Jesus telling stories about how God’s grace springs forth … at unexpected times … or in unexpected places, like this fig tree growing where it does not belong, in a vineyard. Give grace a chance, Jesus says. Let it grow. You never know where you will find it. — James Richardson

So I can relate to the poor fig tree in our parable … The fig tree that for whatever reason cannot produce.  I feel like that not infrequently, maybe you do too.  Unable to produce. … Maybe we are all fig trees in a way … — Nadia Bolz-Weber


We might imagine that Jesus had many human faults. He failed most humanly, in my reckoning, when he killed the fig tree just because it didn’t bear any figs for his breakfast; that was a disgraceful, bad-tempered thing to do, and to try and make a virtue of it by saying it was a demonstration of faith only made things worse. — Michael Leunig

Our Lord never condemned the fig tree because it brought forth so much fruit that some fell to the ground and spoiled. He only cursed it when it was barren. — Edwin Louis Cole

Charism is the fig tree that blooms in every season; it is the fireworks of the fourth of July of grace and God and Jesus! … the gifts of the life of Jesus, we’re told in 1st Corinthians, remain, nevertheless, because the spirit gives them now to us as carriers of these religious traditions and also to you as bearers of them anew. — Joan Chittister

Knowing that our God does give us another chance, do we respond by producing spiritual fruit that is pleasing to God? Do we live our lives with usefulness, working towards God’s intended purpose for us, working together as one body to achieve equality for all of God’s children? — Sally Herlong

Given Luke’s consistent picture of God’s reaction … perhaps the gardener is God, the one who consistently raises a contrary voice to suggest that the ultimate answer … isn’t punishment – not even in the name of justice – but rather mercy, reconciliation, and new life. — David Lose

Looking closely, we see the many entwined branches, winding their way around one another in intricate patterns of tight curls that make it impossible to tell where one branch starts or another one ends. This is not just intricate; it’s intimate, and the vine shares with its branches the nutrients that sustain it, the life force of the whole plant … this vine is one with the branches … we find the best grapes close in to the vine, “where the nutrients are the most concentrated.” … This kind of abiding … showers us with “shalom, which speaks of wholeness, completeness, and health.” Here, close to the vine, immersed in shalom, we find not only nourishment but also hope and joy. — Kathryn Matthews


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