The Hardest Season
In the northern hemisphere the new year begins in the dead of winter. Its an interesting time in the vineyard because to the naked eye the vineyard is anything but new. It is the season of dormancy. There is no fruit and what few leaves still cling to the vine are dry and brown. I have to be more intentional about caring for the vines during this season because the thick rich green foliage and beautiful bunches of grapes do not beckon me each morning as they do during the growing season. The term dormant is misleading because it implies that there is nothing happening. Yet this dormant season is perhaps the most important season in the yearly cycle because it is during this season that the vine is being renewed inwardly for the burst of growth that will take place in the spring leading to fruit in the summer. Regular feeding still has to take place and it is time to apply additional nutrients to the soil. It is also during this season that the branches are pruned so they will bear more fruit – more to come about that in a future blog. The vines may seem dormant but the vinedresser is as attentive and busy as ever.
Recent studies cite evidence that people who drive while tired are just as impaired and accident prone as those who drive while intoxicated. We’ve long heard about the importance of rest. Our bodies need a period of dormancy. Studies show that, while our bodies appear to be ‘at rest’, incredible things are taking place; our body’s cells are regenerating, our brains are processing and categorizing all of the sensory input from the day. The same principle applies to the spirit. There is value, necessity in rest; a season of dormancy. In religious language it is called ‘Sabbath’. It is difficult for many of us. God (the Vinedresser) says: “In returning and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15) Just because we don’t see fruit or any evidence that much is going on doesn’t mean the Vinedresser isn’t at work. So don’t be anxious. For everything there is a season, even a season to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)