Pruning is the key to ultimate pleasure.
I see this reality every time I play the muse above my daddyís vineyard. In the spring, I can almost feel the life ready to burst out of what looks like death.
Today, my pug, King Henry, sits on his haunches sniffing the faint breeze. His curled tail moves slightly as if a weather vane in action. His glossy fine apricot-fawn coat shimmers in the afternoon light. He was the runt I saved the night before his owner pruned down the brood. Not all pruning outside the vineyard is good.
A few months ago we cut back the dead cane while the vines rested. Cool morning breezes wafted through again and again and left behind an abundant dew. Brilliant sunshine massaged the soil and plants with its healing rays. I can imagine what will be only because I have seen it again and again.
King Henry pushes his wrinkled, short-muzzle against an ancient vine the size of my forearm and then backs his compact well-muscled body into reverse. Heís ten but he thinks like a seasoned vitner. Everything must be right to be ready.
Today was the first day for watering. We deliberately watered in the troughs between the mounds where the vines lay nesting. The ground is rocky and the topsoil is shallow is some areas. We chose this land so the roots will stretch out far and deep for moisture. Too much water near the roots and the grapes will be juicy and plump Ė great for eating Ė but poor for wines and juices. The flavor will be weak and the clumps of berries will be tasteless.
Iím reminded of my own life as a believer. If things are easy I may look sweet and comfortable but the taste will be weak. Struggle breeds in its own richness of character and the Master Gardner seems to know that in his determination to bring out the best of flavors in me.
It wonít be long after the buds burst out before we selectively break off extra buds, foliage and branches which might impede the best fruit. The vine will put all its energy into feeding the clusters that are still in place. Still later, we will break off the low clumps that wonít get the full taste of sunlight. The pruning is the key and it never seems to stop. My Master Gardner breaks off the extras in my life.
King Henry, or K H as I sometimes call him, has an ancient soul. His forebears from China were imported through Europe by the sixteenth century, crossed into England in the seventeenth century as the mascot of the new monarchs, and became a favorite of the House of Stuart. His rose ears fold up with the front tips against the side of his skull. His strong under-bite makes him look like he is deep in thought about all he surveys.
The time for meditation is short and I stroll along the rows breaking off a clump here and a clump there. KH darts back and forth and clamps down on an ill-formed cluster and removes it. He drops it at my feet and waits for a word of encouragement and a quick pat. He makes me smile and reminds me of my own feeble efforts to gain the praise of my heavenly master.
A handful of stray locusts unseasonably out of place land on a plant near my dog and K Hís heritage as a guard dog kicks into full swing. He charges the intruders and actually chomps on one not quick enough to escape. Once again, the prize is deposited at my feet. I clap and jump in response.
The pug is so excited he begins gasping and snorting. I reach over and massage his throat and cover his nose so the reverse sneezing fit is shortened. He nuzzles into me gratefully and then takes up his post again watching over the vineyard.
King Henry is a great example for me as I ponder my Masterís Vineyard. Like the pug, I watch and learn and leap in to do what I can. Most of the time I donít have the overall understanding or plan for all the details of what is happening. Iím just here. Doing what I think my Master is doing.
The Vineyard is an example of my life. The pruning is critical to bring out the best fruit. Pruning brings out ultimate pleasure for Master and servant alike.
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