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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Vines (11/21/05)

TITLE: Within the vine
By Denise Stanford


Delia lived alone in a modest little house. It was showing its age but gradually she had made it her own. She was satisfied with her success with one exception. At the front of the house a small veranda made of concrete and brick faced the full sun offering no shade whatsoever.

The Nurseryman suggested planting an ornamental vine.
¡°I¡¯d prefer a grape vine.¡±
¡°Then you¡¯ll need two, the ornamental grows quickly giving you the shade you¡¯re after¡¦ then the grape vine can take its time to get established, when that¡¯s done grub tother out.¡±

With a wooden pergola to support them she planted the vines side by side. Delia soon enjoyed a pleasant shade beneath a scattering of leaves. They thickened into a shady canopy beneath which she nurtured pots of flowers and herbs. A small water feature, a table and chair made it her favourite spot.

Here she would have her quiet time and eventually began writing the things God brought to her heart. If at a loss for words, she would lean back finding inspiration within the vine; in pink tinged buds swelling, bursting, soft green sunlight, black and white butterflies drifting through the canopy seeking a safe haven for eggs, autumnal changes turning green to a palette of vibrant flame.

Leaf litter became woody mulch, the earthy scent released by winter rains. Naked twisted stems formed a sculpture like no other. The only thing that didn¡¯t come was fruit and eventually Delia presumed the grape vine had died.

The curtain of branches embraced her and she felt safe within the vine. She would never dream of cutting it as her neighbour Harry kept suggesting she should. When the vine formed a barrier between her and the world, she was glad to hide and write her own.

One day, settled within the vine, came the moment every writer dreads. Nothing! No words, no ideas, no thoughts just a blank page mocking her. She leaned back searching the vine for the inspiration. As if seeing it for the first time she noticed how many of the large beautiful leaves had become small and misshapen, long empty branches ended in stumpy twigs stiff and unmoving.

The vine offered neither inspiration nor encouragement. Trying to ignore it Delia returned to write, again and again producing fruitless stories and stunted verses. Day after day she struggled on, her disappointment rising.
¡®Why do things have to change?¡¯ she wrote just to see some words on paper.

The sparse foliage once again allowed the neighbours to witness her uninspired struggles, leaving her feeling exposed, betrayed and abandoned.

When Harry next suggested pruning the vine she lost it. Storming off to her tool shed she found the pruning shears and attacked the vine. Before long everything had been cut away, only those branches too thick for the shears remained.

No longer keen to revisit her failure as a writer, she kept busy. A space opened on the flower roster at church, a new family needed help with a sick child. She began walking and watched the seasons change in neighbourhood gardens.

One day as she passed Harry¡¯s place he called out to her, ¡°I see you pruned the vine then, looks promising.¡±

Following his gaze she saw the naked pergola now covered in lush green leaves.
She went to stand beneath a ceiling of green. In just a short time it had grown so much long new branches had burst away from the sturdy stems, tendrils tangled together in a frenzy of support and scattered throughout tiny green clusters of young grapes.

The delight was too much to contain. Finding paper and pencil Delia quickly wrote three pages of song within the vine. Once again it became a haven but this time with two chairs, she issued invitations and made sure she could see and be seen.

Each year with Harry¡¯s help she pruned the vine. The branches became bindings for twiggy pyramids for sweet peas and clematis. One year she wound them into Christmas wreaths and gave them away.

Within the vine she once more enjoyed her quiet times and wrote the abundance with which God blessed her. When she read in Song of Solomon, ¡®¡¦They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept.¡¯∆ She realised the error she had made. By hiding away she had forgotten how essential to her own spiritual wellbeing it was to be active, within the Vine §Ù.

∆ Song of Solomon Chpt1v6NKJV
§Ù John15 vv5/6 NKJV

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Member Comments
Member Date
Chelsea Pietsch11/28/05
Nice! I like how the ornamental vine grew quickly, and looked good, but produced no fruit. On top of that, it was only AFTER she pruned it that it really flourished. As much as we don't like to admit it... God needs to prune us and true fruit takes time. It was well written with nice descriptive language.
Gabrielle Morgan11/28/05
I loved reading this work. Beautifully expressed.
Anita Neuman11/28/05
This has got to be a winner! Your descriptions were so real, I could almost feel the warmth of the sunlight sparkling between the leaves. Delightful - and such a poignant message!
Jan Ackerson 12/01/05
Very nice--you tied in the vines, worte something that everyone who writes can relate to, and gave us a subtle message.
Sandra Petersen 12/01/05
This story, a modern day parable about the importance of bearing spiritual fruits of service, was wonderfully written! Harry knew what was needed, as so often people looking at us can see, but Delia could not listen, and neither can we, until she no longer felt the inspiration or the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Good lesson well told! I had one problem, and I don't know if it was my computer or typos, but in paragraphs 2, 5, 8, 12, 15,and 16, there were strange characters almost like a foreign language here and there. Kind of detracted, but the rest was very good! Bless you.
Julianne Jones12/01/05
A beautiful analogy with wonderfully descriptive language. I too had the strange characters but assume it's just a formatting problem - happens ocassionally and you may not even be able to see them on your computer. They didn't detract from the overall piece. Well done!
Garnet Miller 12/01/05
Well done! Just like the vine was pruned, so was she. God showed her how to be fruitful for Him!
Karen Ward12/02/05
"The curtain of branches embraced her and she felt safe within the vine" Oh how I've enjoyed that place in my time! Great message, well written.
Cassie Memmer12/02/05
You took us right into the pergola with you. Nice story!
Val Clark12/02/05

Can really identify with the gentle message of this entry. Loved the character and sharing her joys and frustrations. When it’s time to get back into community sometimes we need a shove…. (Looking forward, though, to my own pleasant place to write. (sigh)) Yeggy
Shari Armstrong 12/02/05
Very well done -just some formatting that's just a glitch (preview will help catch those, many folks have had some come through that way) - made it a little distracting to read-but still well worth the read!!!
Suzanne R12/06/05
Beautiful! I envy her the vine covered veranda! You expressed well the need to be out in the community too. Well done!