I posted this earlier as part of my Triduum presentation
as it occured during a retreat at Easter years ago.
We tend to link solace with bereavement, forgetting that
death of spirit, ambition, relationships and dreams may also
need words and touch of consolation. I did not think when writing this —
just let it flow in response to a need —
I fervently hope to be able to do this again when called …
And my sister cried,
“The distraction and pressure was more that could be endured. I was torn and ready to refuse to continue this turmoiled plan. Sleep was elusive and I prayed my tears did not disturb my love partner near by. Joy is diminished by anguish and my candle refuses to be re-lighted in the rush of silent winds that tug at my soul. The world presses down – and in – and all around. My spirit must burst! The specter before me is that of a bunch of grapes, full perhaps, but yet not separate from the sustaining vine.
The pressing plate squeezed down, down and I burst! ”
The wheel is turned by many hands beyond my control and indistinct in a blur of pain and tears and hope lost in unwilling surrender. My juices flow forth and spread outward through the cracks in the vessel of my life that I have never had the time to patch. Life breathes in and out in furtive gasps at the escape of purpose and reason and hard fought control over things less important now.”
To this I replied privately the next morning …
Nature’s blessing of the grape is that it contains by right the spores of new life to bond with the death of the fruit. The blend of musty, molded dust and life juice from the bursting fruit are in passion formed into wine. This new living pulse gives little hint of the despair that wrought its life from now discarded skins of quick forgotten plans and shallow goals. The enchanted process of mingled death and life entwined spreads out – out into the waiting hearts of friends standing every ready to share this heady gift. They may not be prepared to answer full this blessing, or remember to extend a hand or heart when needed – that too is the brush of humanity.
For better or worse, the shadowed figures that ebb and wane in importance to this daily focus on tasks and duty are also a bonding confusion of tortured humanity and masked divinity. They need this wine to nurture life and courage in taking the call to community that is your gift this day. Perhaps their day will come in time in a cycle seeded and renewed, but today it is you, my friend, that in dying can find new life and move forward to a new bonding to the center stem of that vine anchored in the clutch of time. Bask in the silent thanks that needs no words, for none will serve. All who share that spreading vibrant flow of your love’s essence will know also the call to community that is our rightful place. We stand in ill-formed line perhaps, and march slightly out of step; but we will be there in turn to be ground into simple wine in the way that you have taught.
It is a sadness, perhaps, that a community must be small lest identity becomes one of ‘they’ instead of ‘us’, for all are part of a communal drift. But it may be joyful too, for else the wine may serve to be diluted. We need this loving gift for which we may never show more than a passing hug or distant smiled embrace. I hope you saved some of that wine for yourself, to age a bit perhaps, and mellow in a cask of memory’s diffusion. When you are ready to embrace this painful, crushing experience anew, know that I for one will be holding forth a crust of bread. It will be waiting for you each day.