But It Yielded Wild Grapes

Crossing Boulevard with Rev. Rachel


The land, the supplies, even the life-giving relationship; these were there for the taking. Yet, the only growth was wild, Isaiah reports. I have to wonder: Is this a bad thing? To a girl whose heart beats for Chincoteague ponies, roadside blackberries, the surprise scent of honeysuckle…this reads harshly. With further thought, I hear a diagnosis (which is only harsh for those accustomed to taking things personally and/or unaccustomed to examination). To point out the presence of wild grapes is not an attack on the part of Isaiah. While it may suggest that God intended some other variety to grow, the prophet speaks descriptively. We humans are quick to hear the prescriptive. This is one of the many reasons why we cannot follow Christ without tending to our inner soil. The good news is that holy cultivation can happen most anywhere, anytime. The not so good news is that we don’t always want the vinedresser to mess with that which we forget belongs to the vineyard in the first place. It is no wonder that Isaiah suffered. When he grabbed a hold of things that God’s people saw as theirs to brand and market, the popularity contest was lost. Hearing others tell the stories we would tell differently has never been easy. I am reminded of the hours in pre-ordination psychological assessment and the sense that if I were the PhD in the armchair across from me and had another’s livelihood in my hands, I would not be so off about this or prone to overemphasizing that. I could not see then what I appreciate now. Laying down the sword that is defending, justifying, vindicating one’s self—oh, would I need the discipline. God was providing the practice. These days, when I offer my take on a particular aspect of congregational life, bodies can occasionally stiffen. Once or twice I think I’ve seen the prune face. [You know, scrunching everything in to meet the nose. You can thank my yoga teacher for the name.] Remembering that the look I get is the look I have given is grace. It is the grace that unsticks me from self, putting me back to vineyard work. Maybe this is the kind of fruit God has in mind. I don’t know. I have to believe that embracing the invitation to never quit becoming is cause for celebration at The Great Potter’s wheel. Just thinking that willing clay may be held in those hands all the more…It is plenty sweet for today~