Yesterday I performed the annual pruning on our grape vines. There were long, rambling branches. Sometimes it was a challenge to unravel them. Each contained a story. Some showed marks of damage from a storm or pest. They survived, but the course of their growth took a modified direction after the damage. Some intertwined amongst each other as they grew. Many of them clung tightly to each other by small tendrils, that had to be cut, to separate them without damage to the remaining ones. A few demonstrated unique forms as they had been forced to grow around obstacles in their path.
If one had time and creative energy, Perhaps one could read the curve, the suppleness, the odd forms, and the strengths of each branch. The various unique forms could be channeled into some forms of beauty.
But, alas, I had no such romantic or artisanal intentions. My goals were pragmatic. The borough’s brush pick-up is next month. I intended to cut the branches, so that I could have them prepared to put them out by the curb. How to get a tangle of branches, that took up a good portion of the yard-space into a trash can to place by the curb? Cut them into small uniform pieces, that could fit into a small space in a more orderly manner.
As I took long, rambling strands and lopped them into short pieces, I was thinking about relationships. I cannot recall a time when the world around me felt more polarized, more segmented, than it does right now. Both within church culture and in society-at-large, I sense pressure to form tightly organized ideological social structures that others are expected to fit into. I have to fight this tendency as much as anyone else. It seems harder than ever to take time to appreciate a person’s narrative, their uniqueness. Instead of weaving our lives together, it seems much easier to try to reduce persons to a few areas of idealogical consent, which fit our small framework. If the fit doesn’t work, there are other frameworks where they can find a fit. To enlarge my framework enough to include diversity of others is to face countering forces similar to forcing open the door of a car submerged in water. Instead of appreciating interwoven beauty, our culture seems more comfortable, at the moment, with the pattern of containers of uniform sticks subsisting in proximity to each other.