Themes from vineyard parables: loving and laborious, first and last, generous and greedy, willing and willful

Indeed, the word sacrament is derived from a Latin phrase which means “to make holy.” When hit with the glint of love’s light, even ordinary things become holy. … But our God is in the business of transforming ordinary things into holy things, scraps of food into feasts and empty purification vessels into fountains of fine wine. This God knows his way around the world, so there’s no need to fear…. There’s always enough—just taste and see. There’s always and ever enough. —Rachel Held Evans

Beer is made by men, wine by God. — Martin Luther

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


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.


A DRINKING SONG W. B. Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

SONGS about OWING:

SONGS about OFFERING:

LOVE: I Am the Vineyard — Rumi

The singer sings about love, until 
the Friend appears in the doorway. 

Kitchen smoke drifts up into clouds 
and becomes a thousand-year-old wine. 

I am here, not reckoning the credit
accumulated or future speculation.

I am the vineyard and the barrel
where the grapes are crushed,

the entire operation, whose transaction
pours this glass of wine,
this moment, this poem.

A man stumbles by with baggage,
papers from the house, regret and wishing,
not knowing which to tend to. Neither.

After you see the face, concerns change,
as lakewater rises into mist.

The VINEYARD— Rudyard Kipling
At the eleventh hour he came,
But his wages were the same
As ours who all day long had trod
The wine-press of the Wrath of God.

When he shouldered through the lines
Of our cropped and mangled vines,
His unjaded eye could scan
How each hour had marked its man.

(Children of the morning-tide
With the hosts of noon had died,
And our noon contingents lay
Dead with twilight’s spent array.)

Since his back had felt no load ,
Virtue still in him abode;
So he swiftly made his own
Those last spoils we had not won.

We went home, delivered thence,
Grudging him no recompense
Till he portioned praise or blame
To our works before he came.

Till he showed us for our good–
Deaf to mirth, and blind to scorn–
How we might have best withstood
Burdens that he had not born!

THOUSANDS of WINES — Rumi
…There are thousands of wines
that can take over our minds.
Don’t think all ecstasies
are the same!
Jesus was lost in his love for God.
His donkey was drunk with barley.
Drink from the presence of saints,
not from those other jars.
Every object, every being,
is a jar full of delight.
Be a connoisseur,
and taste with caution.
Any wine will get you high.
Judge like a king, and choose the purest,
the ones unadulterated with fear,
or some urgency about “what’s needed.”…

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.

LABORING in the VINEYARD
Training the vineyard:
https://www.arec.vaes.vt.edu/content/dam/arec_vaes_vt_edu/alson-h-smith/grapes/viticulture/extension/presentations/newgrowervinemgmt.pdf

Planting, maintaining and harvesting vineyards in first-century Israel was strenuous work requiring hard physical labor in the heat of summer. Often, additional laborers were required to get all the work done.  — Gotquestions.org

The most intimate contact between man and nature occurs during pruning. Observe, breathe, walk around and sense, above all sense. Before we prune, we must first study the vineyard, but most importantly, we must love it
      Pruning is to the vine what a new building is to an architect. The first steps at the beginning of the year; the beginning of the process of the life cycle of our vines, the most significant decision in the cycle of the vineyard; choosing which wine we want to create from each plot, where it all begins.
     It is one of the tasks carried out with the utmost respect, attention, sensitivity and one that requires the most experience and wisdom. All the work which takes place throughout the year is important, but pruning is probably the most relevant, since the quality and the quantity of the grape and the wine that will be obtained later depends on how well it is performed. — from Raventos i Blanc, ful article :https://www.raventos.com/web/module_travel/blog/en/poda/

Vineyards and shining harvests, pastures, arbors, And all this our very utmost toil Can hardly care for, we wear down our strength Whether in oxen or in men, we dull The edges of our ploughshares, and in return Our fields turn mean and stingy, underfed, And so today the farmer shakes his head, More and more often sighing that his work, The labour of his hands, has come to naught. – Lucretius

Every person should guard the vineyard where he has been called to labor. – Sunday Adelaja

Any man who, having planted a vineyard, has not yet reaped the benefits should do so at once, so that he does not die in the struggle and leave it for another to enjoy. – Paulo Coelho

It was with good reason that God commanded through 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 the VINEYARDS of TERAMO
for Franco — Laura Apol
1.
You are named for the man
who told you stories
of the vineyards of his youth
when you, too, were learning
the ways of love. There was the sun.
There was the light.
There were the vines and grapes,
the thick spread of honey
across breasts, belly and thighs,
and the gift of pleasure
a man can give and taste
in a woman’s skin.
It was a fine-­‐-­‐grained photo
of his life, oceans ago—
your grandfather creating with words
the land he had left and the man
he had been, carrying love
on his tongue for the rest of his years.
2.
We will know it together, someday—
that Adriatic light, the lush vines
covering the hillsides of Abruzzo,
and the hum of bees
threaded through the sweet smell
of ripening grapes.
And when at last
we lie down in that vineyard,
the hushed echo of grapes alive in the air,
I will call you by the name
you and he share—the name of a man
who passed on
the pleasures of skin and tongue,
the sweetness of light,
and the warm honeyed taste of Teramo.
3.
Say this is the place, these
the hillsides your grandfather
wandered, the thick vines he loved.
Picture his stained fingers
handling these curling tendrils,
these blossoms and shoots.

By night we taste the fruit,
breathe in its color, roll its velvet
names on our tongues:

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo,
Pepe Trebbiano, vintage Aurora—
the complex palate
of a wine-­‐-­‐maker’s dream. By day, too,
we sample the vines, live into the story
you learned long ago:
clay lime soil at my back, Gran Sasso peaks
and thunder in the distance—
the sky opening as I unlock your name.
And so we are soaked by Abruzzi rain,
here in the vineyards that speak to you
of home, and passion quickening
across continents and time.
Say this is the sweetness
your young grandfather tasted—
you, the future
he pressed himself toward.

ODE to WINE Pablo Neruda
Day-colored wine,
night-colored wine,
wine with purple feet
or wine with topaz blood,
wine,
starry child
of earth,
wine, smooth
as a golden sword,
soft
as lascivious velvet,
wine, spiral-seashelled
and full of wonder,
amorous,
marine;
never has one goblet contained you,
one song, one man,
you are choral, gregarious,
at the least, you must be shared.
At times
you feed on mortal
memories;
your wave carries us
from tomb to tomb,
stonecutter of icy sepulchers,
and we weep
transitory tears;
your
glorious
spring dress
is different,
blood rises through the shoots,
wind incites the day,
nothing is left
of your immutable soul.
Wine
stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own.

My darling, suddenly
the line of your hip
becomes the brimming curve
of the wine goblet,
your breast is the grape cluster,
your nipples are the grapes,
the gleam of spirits lights your hair,
and your navel is a chaste seal
stamped on the vessel of your belly,
your love an inexhaustible
cascade of wine,
light that illuminates my senses,
the earthly splendor of life.

But you are more than love,
the fiery kiss,
the heat of fire,
more than the wine of life;
you are
the community of man,
translucency,
chorus of discipline,
abundance of flowers.
I like on the table,
when we’re speaking,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
Drink it,
and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine;
and in the ritual of his office,
let the simple man remember
to think of the soil and of his duty,
to propagate the canticle of the wine.

COMMENTARY on VINEYARD PARABLES

… Really, this parable isn’t about the workers. It’s about landowner.  This is God’s Vineyard, God’s table, God’s Kingdom and God’s world. We don’t make the invitation list and we don’t dole out the gifts. And it’s a good thing too because no doubt we would try to make it all fair. No doubt we’d make sure everyone got what they deserved. But God isn’t fair. God is irrationally and irresponsibly generous. His mercies are infinite, offensive, new every morning.
     We think the miracle is that our coworkers get to share in the reward, but the miracle is that any of us get to share in the work. The miracle is that God comes to the marketplace, pulls us out, hands us shovels and baskets and clippers, and puts us to work. If  we want in on this Kingdom, if we want in on this work, we best set aside our small notions of what it means to deserve, what it means to be fair, and what it means to earn. Because what makes God’s grace offensive isn’t who it leaves out, but who it lets in…starting with you and me. Fair’s got nothing to do with it.  — Rachel Held Evans, full article: https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/lectionary-workers-vineyard-landowner

We poison the wine as He decants it into us; murder a melody He would play with us as the instrument … — CS Lewis

What makes this the kingdom of God is not the worthiness or piety or social justicey-ness or the hard work of the laborers…none of that matters. It’s the fact that the landowner couldn’t manage to keep out of the marketplace. He goes back and back and back, interrupting lives…coming to get his people. Grace tapping us on the shoulder…And so, I reminded those seven pastors specifically, including the man who introduced me to grace, that the kingdom of God was just like that exact moment in which sinners/saints are reconciled to God and to one another…In the end, their calling, and their value in the kingdom of God comes not from the approval of a denomination or of the other works, but in their having been come-and-gotten by God. It is the pure and unfathomable mercy of a God that defines them and that says, ‘pay attention, this is for you. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

I feel like the vineyard owner and the tree all at once.  Like I’m my own defendant, judge and jury at the same time.  And I’d love nothing more than to stand here and say that this only happens once in awhile but the fact is it happens all the time. Impatience with myself and others.  Which is why eventually this little parable really broke my heart. Because once I realized that I felt like the tree and the vineyard owner at the same time, both the one who does not produce and the one who harshly judges the lack of production..well when I realized that it felt amazing to make the next jump – which is to realize that God is the one in our lives who steps in with a big sledgehammer of grace and advocates for us saying “one more year” Another year.  Another month.  Another week.  Another day.  This is what God comes to us offering like an endless deferment of your student loan. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Of FRUIT & CUP

Wine is sunlight, held together by water. — Galileo Galilei

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile — Homer

Wine is a living liquid containing no preservatives. Its life cycle comprises youth, maturity, old age, and death. When not treated with reasonable respect it will sicken and die. — Julia Child The sun had already set behind the mountains, and the sky had been drained of color. The trellises of sauvignon blanc flowed down the hill in even rows toward the valley floor. Whatever I was looking for, it wasn’t outside. As far as I could tell, the grapes were minding their own business. – Frederick Weisel

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

Groves of orange and lemon perfumed the air, their ripe fruit glowing among the foliage; while, sloping to the plains, extensive vineyards spread their treasures. Beyond these, woods and pastures, and mingled towns and hamlets stretched towards the sea, on whose bright surface gleamed many a distant sail; while, over the whole scene was diffused the purple glow of evening. – Ann Radcliffe

Every season hath its pleasure; Spring may boast her flowery prime, Yet the vineyard’s ruby treasuries brighten Autumn’s sob’rer time. – Thomas Moore

Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments. – Kahlil Gibran

My only regret in life is that I did not drink more wine. — Ernest Hemingway

Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age. — Pope John XXIII

Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read. — Francis Bacon

GO WORK in MY VINEYARD — Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Go work in my vineyard, said the Lord,
And gather the bruised grain;
But the reapers had left the stubble bare,
And I trod the soil in pain.

The fields of my Lord are wide and broad,
He has pastures fair and green,
And vineyards that drink the golden light
Which flows from the sun’s bright sheen.

I heard the joy of the reapers’ song,
As they gathered golden grain;
Then wearily turned unto my task,
With a lonely sense of pain.

Sadly I turned from the sun’s fierce glare,
And sought the quiet shade,
And over my dim and weary eyes
Sleep’s peaceful fingers strayed.

I dreamed I joined with a restless throng,
Eager for pleasure and gain;
But ever and anon a stumbler fell,
And uttered a cry of pain.

But the eager crowd still hurried on,
Too busy to pause or heed,
When a voice rang sadly through my soul,
You must staunch these wounds that bleed.

My hands were weak, but I reached them out
To feebler ones than mine,
And over the shadows of my life
Stole the light of a peace divine.

Oh! then my task was a sacred thing,
How precious it grew in my eyes!
‘Twas mine to gather the bruised grain
For the “Lord of Paradise.”

And when the reapers shall lay their grain
On the floors of golden light,
I feel that mine with its broken sheaves
Shall be precious in His sight.

Though thorns may often pierce my feet,
And the shadows still abide,
The mists will vanish before His smile,
There will be light at eventide.

WILD GRAPES

— Robert Frost – 1874-1963

What tree may not the fig be gathered from?

The grape may not be gathered from the birch?

It’s all you know the grape, or know the birch.
As a girl gathered from the birch myself
Equally with my weight in grapes, one autumn,
I ought to know what tree the grape is fruit of.
I was born, I suppose, like anyone,
And grew to be a little boyish girl
My brother could not always leave at home.
But that beginning was wiped out in fear
The day I swung suspended with the grapes,
And was come after like Eurydice
And brought down safely from the upper regions;
And the life I live now’s an extra life
I can waste as I please on whom I please.
So if you see me celebrate two birthdays,
And give myself out of two different ages,
One of them five years younger than I look-

One day my brother led me to a glade
Where a white birch he knew of stood alone,
Wearing a thin head-dress of pointed leaves,
And heavy on her heavy hair behind,
Against her neck, an ornament of grapes.
Grapes, I knew grapes from having seen them last year.
One bunch of them, and there began to be
Bunches all round me growing in white birches,
The way they grew round Leif the Lucky’s German;
Mostly as much beyond my lifted hands, though,
As the moon used to seem when I was younger,
And only freely to be had for climbing.
My brother did the climbing; and at first
Threw me down grapes to miss and scatter
And have to hunt for in sweet fern and hardhack;
Which gave him some time to himself to eat,
But not so much, perhaps, as a boy needed.
So then, to make me wholly self-supporting,
He climbed still higher and bent the tree to earth
And put it in my hands to pick my own grapes.
‘Here, take a tree-top, I’ll get down another.
Hold on with all your might when I let go.’
I said I had the tree. It wasn’t true.
The opposite was true. The tree had me.
The minute it was left with me alone
It caught me up as if I were the fish
And it the fishpole. So I was translated
To loud cries from my brother of ‘Let go!
Don’t you know anything, you girl? Let go!’
But I, with something of the baby grip
Acquired ancestrally in just such trees
When wilder mothers than our wildest now
Hung babies out on branches by the hands
To dry or wash or tan, I don’t know which,
(You’ll have to ask an evolutionist)-
I held on uncomplainingly for life.
My brother tried to make me laugh to help me.
‘What are you doing up there in those grapes?
Don’t be afraid. A few of them won’t hurt you.
I mean, they won’t pick you if you don’t them.’
Much danger of my picking anything!
By that time I was pretty well reduced
To a philosophy of hang-and-let-hang.
‘Now you know how it feels,’ my brother said,
‘To be a bunch of fox-grapes, as they call them,
That when it thinks it has escaped the fox
By growing where it shouldn’t-on a birch,
Where a fox wouldn’t think to look for it-
And if he looked and found it, couldn’t reach it-
Just then come you and I to gather it.
Only you have the advantage of the grapes
In one way: you have one more stem to cling by,
And promise more resistance to the picker.’

One by one I lost off my hat and shoes,
And still I clung. I let my head fall back,
And shut my eyes against the sun, my ears
Against my brother’s nonsense; ‘Drop,’ he said,
‘I’ll catch you in my arms. It isn’t far.’
(Stated in lengths of him it might not be.)
‘Drop or I’ll shake the tree and shake you down.’
Grim silence on my part as I sank lower,
My small wrists stretching till they showed the banjo strings.
‘Why, if she isn’t serious about it!
Hold tight awhile till I think what to do.
I’ll bend the tree down and let you down by it.’
I don’t know much about the letting down;
But once I felt ground with my stocking feet
And the world came revolving back to me,
I know I looked long at my curled-up fingers,
Before I straightened them and brushed the bark off.
My brother said: ‘Don’t you weigh anything?
Try to weigh something next time, so you won’t
Be run off with by birch trees into space.’

It wasn’t my not weighing anything
So much as my not knowing anything-
My brother had been nearer right before.
I had not taken the first step in knowledge;
I had not learned to let go with the hands,
As still I have not learned to with the heart,
And have no wish to with the heart-nor need,
That I can see. The mind-is not the heart.
I may yet live, as I know others live,
To wish in vain to let go with the mind-
Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me
That I need learn to let go with the heart.

The VINE Thomas Merton

When wind and winter turn our vineyard
To a bitter Calvary,
What hands come out and crucify us
Like the innocent vine?

How long will starlight weep as sharp as thorns
In the night of our desolate life?
How long will moonlight fear to free the naked prisoner?
Or is there no deliverer?

A mob of winds, on Holy Thursday, come like murderers
And batter the walls of our locked and terrified souls.
Our doors are down, and our defense is done.
Good Friday’s rains, in Roman order,
March, with sharpest lances, up our vineyard hill.

More dreadful than St. Peter’s cry
When he was being swallowed in the sea,
Cries out our anguish: “O! We are abandoned!”
When in our life we see the ruined vine
Cut open by the cruel spring,
Ploughed by the furious season!

As if we had forgotten how the whips of winter
And the cross of April
Would all be lost in one bright miracle.
For look! The vine on Calvary is bright with branches!
See how the leaves laugh in the light,
And how the whole hill smiles with flowers:
And know how all our numbered veins must run
With life, like the sweet vine, when it is full of sun.

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