Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grape harvest, difficult terrain, being in a luminous world

Where I come from, Northern California, the grape harvest will soon be underway. The vintage in Napa Valley this year is said to be "tricky" because of cool weather and a lack of rain.

There are quite a few wineries in this part of Virginia, and anyone who can grow decent grapes in this climate gets my deepest respect. I had a glass of a Cabernet Franc the other night with grapes grown at Monticello, and it was fruity and pleasant.

The grape harvest represents the livelihoods of thousands of people, from immigrant grape pickers to wine moguls, and many people in between. Image aside, not everyone gets rich off wine.

Wine, of course, is rich with symbols. Drops of wine are used at Passover to symbolize the passage from captivity to freedom. Jesus at the Last Supper asks us to remember him in the cup wine he shares with his disciples. When we drink of the cup, the memory of that supper long ago becomes our memory. We drink deeply of God's saving grace. We drink deeply of life.

Our friend Karen from Tennessee sent this poem the other day. I like it a lot.
The Cornucopia
By Arthur Sze

Grapes grow up a difficult and
sloped terrain. A soft line of poplars
shimmer in the disappearing light.
At midnight, the poor move
into the train stations of Italy ,
spread out blankets for the children,
and pretend to the police they have tickets
and are waiting for a train.

The statue of Bacchus is a contrast
with his right hand holding a shallow but
wine-brimming cup. His left hand
reaches easily into the cornucopia
where grapes ripen and burst open.
It is a vivid dream: to wake
from the statue's grace and life force
to the suffering in the streets.

But the truth is the cornucopia
is open to all who are alive,
who look and feel the world in
its pristine beauty -- as a dragonfly
hovering in the sunlight over clear
water; and who feel the world
as a luminous world -- as green plankton
drifting at night in the sea.
My photos, Napa Valley, June 2010

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