“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
So I’ve become a fan of the show “Fixer Upper”. The show introduced me to a couple, of whom I’ve become an even bigger fan: Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez (she’s the daughter of the disco queen – Donna Summer). Together they’re Johnnyswim. Check out their songs: “Diamonds”, “Home” and “Make” among many others. Home is the theme song from “Fixer Upper”. If you watch the show you know its as much about the relationship of the creators, Chip and Joanna Gaines, as it is about the homes they renovate. You would also know that Joanna’s favorite part of renovation is the final home interior decorating and Chip’s favorite day is…. Demo Day! Chip loves demolishing things – intentionally or otherwise. On the surface you’d think that Chip just goes in like a wrecking ball (hmmm… another song by a different artist). They want you to think that. Its part of the caricature that makes him so loveable. Truth is as much careful time and planning is spent on demolition as on any phase of a project.
I have different tools for pruning. There are loppers used for removing very large things like tree branches. There are hedge clippers; large shears held in both hands and used for rapidly trimming thick growth of bushes and hedges. Then there are small pruning shears which are held in one hand and are used for careful, intentional, selective removal of individual branches. If you’ve ever admired the beautiful art of Bonsai you’ve seen the result of this kind of pruning. It takes years and skill and vision. When I trim my hedges I love to put on my gloves, get out those two handed trimmers and go to town. The clippings fly all over the place. Of course then I’ve got a mess to clean up when I’m finished. If I used that approach with the vines I would likely damage the vine itself and end up with far less fruit. Remember the ‘why’. Pruning the branches of the vine is more like the art of Bonsai. Its a great art of ending.
Now Jesus was the son of a carpenter so I would expect him to have knowledge of the hammer and planer. But where did he learn about viniculture? How would he know about pruning branches of vines or new wine and old wineskins? Did he seek out a vintner and ask or was it just so common in those days for people to have vines and make wine? As common as making bread daily? He knew you didn’t go after grapevines with hedge trimmers. Not if you care about the vine. Not if you really want much fruit.
Well this business of necessary endings seems like its going to take a few more posts. I think its worth stopping here so I can ponder (maybe you will too) the grace of God’s pruning and the fact that he uses not big, messy clippers but carefully, patiently, lovingly and with forward vision, he uses the finest of shears. Because I’m worth it to him! Okay, my eyes are beginning to sweat.