Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sprouting Vines

We live in the 'meduragim' which are 'step cottages'.  In plain English, it is an apartment with a separate entrance and in our case, a garden as well.  The living quarters are quite small, but the outside, for me, is paradise.  The owners, who were the original occupants, were very agriculturally oriented so our yard is blessed with several different fruit trees and a few grape vines.  It's unfortunate that it is all a bit wasted on us since we really don't take care of things properly, mostly due to lack of knowledge, resources and time.  But when I sit outside and just take in the view, I am in my own Heaven.  We also back onto a valley of sorts where the Arabs work some agricultural land as well.  Even more awesome, is the fact that just to the south-west of us is Derech Avot, the Path of our Forefathers. We have walked that path on several occasions and each time it amazes me when we arrive at the ancient Mikveh, the same Ritual Bath our Forefathers used on their journey from Chevron to Jerusalem. It's difficult to comprehend that we are actually here, standing on the same soil, walking on the same path as our Holy predecessors.

There are also many beautiful birds which come to visit, flitting by, chirping, eating and playing in the wind.  My kids tease me that I should live on a farm since I am so passionate about nature, but the truth is, I simply love observing it all. I doubt I would have the energy or ability to push up my sleeves and actually run a farm wholeheartedly.  One thing for certain though, when I don't go out walking, our backyard is definitely a prime place for hitbodedut (personal prayer).

A little over a week ago, I began looking at the grape vines which were beginning to sprout. We had discovered in the past that the grapes from this particular vine were the most delicious we had ever tasted.  Since the vine had been partially cut down to accommodate our Succah last year, it no longer reached the top lattice where it was meant to flourish.  It was important for me to ensure that it was able to grow.  I was aware that as the vine develops, it sends out tentacles of sorts which grab onto a wire or twine, and grows along it.  This became apparent in years past when the grape vine decided to adopt my clothes line as its own!

So being naive in this area, I decided to tie a thin rope onto one of the branches so the tentacles would join on, and the plant would be properly directed to the trellis above.  To my astonishment, when I came back to check on it over the next few days, it became evident that the tentacles had no intention of taking hold of that rope.  Instead, several tentacles grew in an erratic manner towards each other and in all directions, as if they didn't know where to go.  It was quite sad and when I was watching them, I felt as if they were almost human.  They were aware that I had tied the twine onto them, and therefore refused to touch it.  It wasn't until a week later, that the vine next to it, not one directly attached to the rope, decided to reach for the guiding thread. 

It made me step back and think. Here are these live plants which are not human, cannot think, cannot reason, are not animals and therefore do not have instincts as we know them. Yet for some reason, they would not allow themselves to grasp for the line that I had attached directly onto their trunk.  Aside from the fact that it shows that every single creation in existence contains a spark of HaShem, I felt that HaShem was sending me a message as well....the question was; what?   And then it hit me - these grape vines are like our children.   Anyone who is blessed with children only wants what's best for them.  A child is as sweet as the most succulent grape on the vine. We do all we can to ensure that we can give them the direction they need, G-d willing, according to HaShem's guidelines.  But we can't tie them down. We can't bind them to us; we can only lead by example.  If we try to secure them directly to us and control them, they will run the other way, floundering in great turmoil in the process.  Yet if we give them room to breathe, and allow them to sprout on their own with our guiding 'rope' always there for them, they will undoubtedly take hold in their own time.

Taking this thought one step further, we should realize that G-d, the Master of all Creation, the Ultimate Parent, is All-Knowing and we are all His children.  Unlike me, the inept Vine Keeper, HaShem knows exactly how to nurture us and steer our lives on the right course.  He never adheres us directly to Himself as a result of our free will but He is always there pointing us in the right direction with His invisible rope.  We are far above plants and our decision to hold on to His guiding life force is our option.  But if we use the grape vine as an example, we can see that we really have no choice at all since without taking hold of the rod of life, we will surely falter.

So I learned my lesson about grape vines and gained some insights in the process.  Undeniably, the knowledge of HaShem's world is an unending storehouse of miraculous surprises.  I can't wait to discover more....