Monday, May 11, 2009

"I am the vine"...

I love wine. I love to read books about it, study the various grapes and what they’re called in different countries. There are so many that it’s virtually impossible to know them all. That kind of takes the pressure off. I’m not looking to become a master sommelier. I just want learn enough to appreciate the goodness of a particular bottle - the years of pruning, protecting and purposeful blending. I want to contemplate the patience of the vine grower, the resilience of the vine, and the particularity of each vintage. It’s a wonder to think about how the very same vine can produce radically different juice given the weather patterns of a certain year. And, no less remarkable, that same vine can be transplanted in another country and the fruit will taste different because of the uniqueness of the soil – what the French call the terroir.

Trying new wines happens less frequently now that I am a Benedictine. In the years before, I could walk into a wine shop and pick some real beauties. Our life does include wine – on Sundays and feast days. But, every now and then, I get to cook a special dinner and match the food and the wine appropriately. We raffled off such a meal to raise money for scholarships at our high school. I am in the throes of preparing for a five-course dinner for four – our two guests and my two sisters. Needless to say, I’m enjoying the process immensely. I made the trip to the wine shop on Saturday evening and read labels for an hour and a half! Some people get lost in bookstores, some women in the shoe department. Me? I lose all track of time in the Barossa region of Australia and in the Italian region of Basilicata. I day-dream of seeing the pinot noir vineyards of Oregon and the hundred-year-old zinfandel vines in California.
This probably sounds very goofy coming from a nun. I do think wine was one of GOD’s greatest ideas. The Lord Jesus made wine from water – His very first miracle. A simple meal of bread and wine is His continuing legacy of love – the gift of His very self. In the gospel yesterday, Jesus called himself “the vine” and we “the branches.” For a wine-lover this metaphor makes perfect sense. The branches – gnarled and tentative – only produce fruit when they remain on the vine. The vine is the source, the life-force of the branches. Without Christ I wither and my life will bear little fruit. With Christ my life will produce a unique, one-of-a-kind vintage. When my sisters carry me up the hill to the cemetery, I hope someone will say, “1963 was a very good year.”
Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki