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The Mystery and The Vine


Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

The Mysteries (Part VI)


The mysteries remain,

I keep the same

cycle of seed-time

and of sun and rain;

Demeter in the grass,

I multiply,

renew and bless

Iacchus in the vine;

I hold the law,

I keep the mysteries true,

the first of these

to name the living dead;

I am red wine and bread,

I KEEP THE LAW,

I HOLD THE MYSTERIES TRUE,

I AM THE VINE,

THE BRANCHES, YOU

AND YOU.

~Hilda Doolitttle (H.D.), Collected Poems 1912-1944


Lately, I am relearning how to “abide.” In order to be whole, to flourish, to find fulfillment, peace, and rest, I have to plug into my Higher Power who functions as the vine, while I’m the branch. The operative definition of “abide” here is to “stay” or “remain.” I have to remain connected to the vine to derive sustenance, energy, and drive. When I do this, I am able to be prolifically creative. I bear nourishing fruit. I thrive. And the world appears more vibrant, colorful, and full of promise. The less I abide, the more I try to separate from the vine, the more I shrivel, grow restless, and the world takes on a bleaker cast. I lose vigor. I am less inspired. And I hunt fruitlessly for help, peeking under logs, upturning stones, subconsciously searching for answers anywhere but on the vine.


Recently I took on the role of printing coloring and activity pages for children at our church to complete during the Sunday services with clipboards and colored pencils. I supply coloring sheets or activities that fit each week’s message. A couple of weeks ago, the theme of the Sunday message was “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15: 5). In full, the verse reads, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” As I printed out the sheets for the service, it would have served me well to pause over its message, reflecting that I could not muster strength and energy to meet life’s expectations, demands, and challenges in and of myself. On an intellectual level, I know this, but too often I am distracted by a day’s logistics and interactions and find myself living as though I have to figure it all out and make it all go alone. I missed the verse’s centering message until I was reading a book I highly recommend, Mother Earth: Through the Eyes of Women Photographers and Writers. I opened to this poem by H.D. above. I found the poem beautiful and resonant, but more importantly, I smiled with recognition. God’s transmission finally came through. This wasn’t just a lesson for the children on Sunday morning. This was an exhortation I personally needed to hear and to take to heart.


“I KEEP THE LAW,

I HOLD THE MYSTERIES TRUE,

I AM THE VINE,

THE BRANCHES, YOU

AND YOU.”


God understands that sometimes I hear more clearly through poetry or literature or nature than I do a direct, implicit sermon. I sat spellbound and enlightened for a moment reading and rereading this poem and enjoying the accompanying illustration which I wish I could find to include here. Across the page from H.D.’s verse is a photograph by Kathleen Norris Cook. The photograph is of “eighty year-old cabernet sauvignon vines and mustard weeds,” taken in Alexander Valley, California. The vivid, almost lurid yellow-green of the mustard beside the dark, irregular, bumpy vines is striking; the photograph has a stark and arresting beauty. This photo from Dry Creek Vineyards is pretty close.

Photo Credit: Flickr, Jinx McCombs.

As someone who is continually on the search to comprehend and enter into spiritual mysteries, always trying to drive closer to truths, this poem moved me on first reading.


“The mysteries remain,

I keep the same

cycle of seed-time”


H.D.’s vine assures the reader that they are in charge of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, and Iacchus, god of mysteries. The vine “holds the law” and “keeps the mysteries true.” The poem concludes with the reminder of who is in charge, and who is who.


“I AM THE VINE,

THE BRANCHES, YOU

AND YOU.”


H.D. is perhaps an unconventional source for the conveyance of this biblical imagery, knowing as I do that H.D. was a feminist, bisexual modernist poet who lived a bohemian and often psychologically troubled life. But here is a sublime example of what I consider “synchronicity.” Synchronicity is defined as “the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” In my estimation, synchronicity happens during those moments when God breaks through with an exquisitely personal communication. God knows my interest in feminist writers and my tendency to appreciate the unconventional. So I am given God’s words through H.D.’s pen, and I receive the transmission. God is speaking my language, and I am moved and grateful.


 

I love poet Dylan Thomas’ phrase for a Higher Power, for God, or a Creative Force, or however you conceptualize a power greater than yourself. He called it, “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” What a gorgeous encapsulation of a vine to branch to fruit reality. As I go about my day today, may I tap into this force like a green fuse ready to flower. Would you like to do the same?

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

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