The Painful Pruning

It had been a beautiful day!  I was sad to see it go.  In fact it had been a really beautiful year.  As long as I could remember it had been sunny and bright. There was always plenty of food, and I was well taken care of.  Granted, I was only a year or so old so I can't remember that much, but my life at the vineyard was a good one.  I had grown a lot during this year, that's for sure.  I started off as a little seedling, but I grew quickly up the trellis along with the other vines around me.  We all had grown, though I think my leaves were a little more fuller and my branches a bit thicker, if I do say so myself.

I had noticed something though. The sun was still shining, but not as long it seemed. The days were getting shorter, and the vine dresser seemed to be pre occupied with other tasks these days.  I could tell he was getting ready for something but I couldn't tell what. The other young vines around me didn't know either, though some had heard whispers of something called winter that was coming.  I didn't know what was though, so I just enjoyed the sun, the waterings, and continued to grow as best I could.  I was a natural for this kind of life it seemed.

As the days grew shorter, they began to get really short, and then it began to get colder. Some days the sun wouldn't come out hardly at all, but the vine dresser seemed to be taking personal time with each vine, so I wasn't worried.  He had always given me what I needed before, and I knew I could trust him.  I couldn't tell what he was doing to the other vines in the other sections of the vineyard, but after he was done they seemed different somehow.

It came to be the turn in our section, and as he got close I could not believe what I was seeing.  The vinedresser, the one who loved us, cared for us, even talked to us throughout the day, had some sort of instrument in his hands and was taking off some of our branches!  Surely he will skip me, I thought, I'm healthy in all the right places, but as he approached me I knew I wouldn't be skipped either.  He snipped, he cut, without any order it seemed, until I could see pieces of myself on the ground.  He gathered them up and threw them on a pile with the other cuttings to be burned.  I had trusted this vine dresser with everything.  But now pieces of me that I loved went up in flames as I watched.

I couldn't believe it. The vinedresser, the one who I thought cared for me above anyone else, had trimmed me off so much that I looked ragged and barren.  There was nothing I could do about it.  I tried to grow back those branches, but they wouldn't come. Something in me had changed so that I wasn't growing anymore.  No one around me was, it seemed, and the days had gotten very short and very cold.  We didn't see the vinedresser often, and I had no choice but to think he had abandoned me. As I sat through all the cold, day after day, weeks turning into months, I began to get mad at the vinedresser.   Who does he think he is, taking what is mine, what I had grown, what I had labored for.  Yeah he made sure I got sun, and water when it got hot, but now he had abandoned me, leaving me to suffer in the cold with the other vines around me.  My confusion turned into hurt, and my hurt left unchecked turned into anger.  This was not how it was supposed to be. What happened to the nice sunny days, full of fun and life? Would I never see those again? If this is what being a vine is, then maybe I am not cut out for it.

Through many months I kept these feelings.  The short days and long nights drove me into even deeper despair.  I wanted to grow, I wanted to make fruit, I wanted to do what I was created to do, but I couldn't do it in these conditions.  Occasionally I would see the vinedresser from a distance.  He seemed to be helping other vines, but never me.  At least not how I wanted him to help me.  I wanted him to give back what he had taken, but all he did was put a little fertilizer on my roots. Sure he fed me during those cold and dark months, but He did that for everyone, so I didn't even want to count that.  This was my life it seemed.  Cut by the one I trusted, by the one I loved. Unable to do what I had been made to do.  Doomed to live in short days and long nights, alone in the cold, not even close to the other vines. 

I can't tell you what day it started to change, but somewhere it did.  The nights weren't as cold, the days were longer. I was still miserable though.  I could feel where the branches were that got cut.  But one day I noticed that new branches were forming.  Not where the old ones had been, but in new places, in good places, in places that I didn't even know I needed growth.  The vine dresser started rolling out plans he had been working on during those cold months.  He watered, fed, and cared for all of us.  We began to see the vinedresser every day, to receive his care for us so we could grow.  As we grew we learned why we were planted where we were, so we would have room to grow.  We were pruned so we would grow in the right directions, and produce fruit at the right times.  As the days became longer and the nights became shorter, I didn't even realize that the hard season was over.

As I grew and and lived several of these patterns in the vineyard, I learned they were called seasons.  This pattern of warmth and growth and cold and pain wasn't just a part of the life of a vine, it WAS the life of a vine. The vinedresser prunes me to make sure I grow right, he's working for me even when I don't see him doing it.  It still doesn't mean I have to like it,  but at least I now can handle it a little bit better.

Not only did I grow physically, but I grew in my trust of the vine dresser.  I began to see what whatever he did was for my good, because his good and my good were the same. The vinedresser can't prosper if his vines fail, so I know that he desires what is best for me. The next time I saw him coming with those shears, I still winced. I knew the pain and cold that this season would bring.  But now I knew it was for my good.

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