Daily Reflection
May 5th, 1999
Carolyn Meeks
Grants Administration Office
Acts 15:1-6
John 15:1-8
My daughter, now a teenager, in her preschool years came home from a summer church camp singing a little ditty about today’s gospel passage.  Her ears heard a truth as she rendered in sing-song voice that “We are de branches and Christ is de vine.”  This Georgia-born girl came from a land taken over by kudzu, an imported vine, said to have been brought to the U.S. to control erosion.  As funny/strange as its name, kudzu grows 8-12 inches a day in late spring, and has managed to carpet the trees and byways of the Deep South.  If you’ve ever driven through Alabama, Mississippi, or Georgia in June or July, you know the distinctive everywhereness of green kudzu.

Kudzu reminds me that for such botanical specimens, there is no distinction between “vine” and “branches.”  Where the vine is, there are its branches; where the branches, there the vine.  The communal experience of Christians has always affirmed this metaphor.  Where the community of faith is, there is the same wholly Christ of gospel experience; there are Christians in fact, not just in name.  Where Christ is, there are people of faith—those who, like Jesus, invite us by their compassion and holiness to meet God in a tangible and real way.

It helps to remember the divinity of Christ, and the inseparability of a vine from its limbs, as we hear what can sound like… well, like an “unkindest cut”…in today’s gospel reading.

It helps to remember that God is the vinegrower.

It helps to recall the insight of a 12th-century Christian holy woman, Hildegard of Bingen, who spoke of the divine “greening power” that is everywhere, around us, in us, sustaining us, holding together the universe.  The “greening power” (Hildegard’s expression before scientists called chlorophyll by name) causes a leaf to turn toward light, causes all kinds of molecular and chemical transformations that convert light to food, and contributes to the work of the plant, which is to bear fruit, seed, life.

It helps to remember these things as we hear of the God/Horticulturist who prunes away the barren branches, and “cleans” even the fruitful ones, so that their green resources can produce, not more leaves and branches, but the ultimate for which they exist: fruit, seed, new life.

In the real spiritual life of an ongoing faith/relationship with the living “de vine” God, we will experience trimming.  The blossoms and fruit that this Vinegrower knows are hidden only in potential (even and especially when we do not) are gifts of this greening Spirit.  What is coming into being is our, shall we say, “divinization”—our sharing in the very life and “who-ness” of Christ that produces holiness and compassion.  These fruits that God sees in us (even when we do not) include virtues our world very much needs in these days of Columbine and Kosovo:  charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, awe in God’s presence…..especially peace….

No one avoids the Vinegrower’s pruning in one way or another.  May we continue to realize the greening-power that courses through our experience, as individuals and in community, and may we continue to turn toward the sun of God’s peace and justice.  May our energies unite with God’s to call back to life and wholeness a suffering and shattered world.

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