In the readings for Sunday October 5th, we enter the world of the vineyard. In the first reading we hear about the owner doing everything necessary to grow wonderful grapes. Instead when it is time to harvest them, the grapes are wild and not good for the intended purpose. In the gospel reading we hear the story of the owner of the vineyard sending his servants to check on his land and the tenants kill them. He then sends his own son and they kill him too.
I think this world can seem far from me until I think about the conversations that I have had in the last few weeks with friends who have prepared themselves intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically for different opportunities. It may be something connected to self care or an opportunity to use their talents in new ways.
I have recently had a number of conversations with people about their ability to achieve different levels of excellence and self care. I have been struck in these conversations that for so many of us we have done all of the work to create an amazing vineyard and yet we find ourselves with wild grapes. Or sometimes the tenants persuade us that we are not capable of accomplishing the making of fine wine.
I am talking about all of the times when I’ve read, attended lectures and even said to others, “Are you taking time to pause in your busy schedule…doing something for you?” Yet when I look at my own schedule it is almost a year since I have had a massage. The tenants inside of my vineyard (my inner Greek Chorus) tell me that having a massage is a luxury and who do I think that I am to spend money that way!? This is despite the fact that I know it very important to my well being and part of caring for my inner vineyard.
I am also talking about those times when I have an opportunity to do something that I have dreamt about doing and perhaps have a calling to do, and other people tell me, “You can’t do that…” They then proceed to go into great detail and tell me specifically why I shouldn’t risk that dream. For me the trouble with those outside voices is that often they match the voices within me; the very voices I have just quieted within.
As I thought about these things I found consolation in the reading of Paul to the Philippians, especially these verses:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-9
Have no anxiety…no worry it will be okay. Give those wild grapes from your vineyards and inner tenants’ chorus of unhelpful comments to God. And don’t stop there…give those doubts about living a dream or a new opportunity to God in the forms of prayers and requests.
All things being equal, though they never are, lift these things to God with thanksgiving, so your heart can make way for that peace of God; a peace so powerful that it will go far beyond our understandings.
As I give my attention to these assuring words of Paul this coming week I hope to allow this dynamic peace to lead my heart and mind toward new possibilities. Possibilities filled with the best that a vineyard can produce. I need to remember that God is in it all and God’s peace is a bridge that can quiet the tenants whether they are voices in my head or voices on the outside. This peace is so powerful that it can guide our actions into rich grapes and a productive vineyard.