Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Discovering Connectedness

 vineyards farms farms farmstands vineyards the east end region is home ...
Dear Friends,

It’s that season. The pruning of trees and vines is in process wherever the green grows.  Pruning is a necessary means to an end – to increase the yield – to bear more and better fruit. In the vineyards combing the Finger Lakes, this spring, workers with a professional eye, will go out to examine new shoots growing on the grapevines. The workers will decide which shoots hold the most  promise. The rest, they’ll snip away, so that the yield of grapes will be the best possible.

Pruning also helps people, although we don’t necessarily find the idea initially appealing. The story of Paul’s pruning is told in the  first reading for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (B Cycle). Paul has been pruned by his encounter with Jesus on  the road to Damascus, but the community is still suspicious of him. It takes  Barnabas – trustworthy Barnabas-to  introduce Paul to the community, and graft him onto the vine. The graft took.

One attribute people associate with pruning is a certain meekness – a diminishment of zest or feistiness. But Paul was never meek – before or after his conversion. Meekness is not the purpose of pruning.

The Gospel of the Fifth Sunday takes the pruning metaphor a step further, for it is also absolutely necessary to be connected to the vine. We are connected to Christ. We are connected to each other. Yet connectedness is an incredibly hard lesson for Americans, in particular, to internalize.

Robert  Bellah observes in his  classic, Habits of the Heart, that “Clearly the meaning of life for most Americans is to become one’s own person, almost to give birth to oneself." Much of this is negative. It involves breaking free from family, community and inherited ideas or as Frank Sinatra crooned and the public still quotes “I'll Have It My Way."

Yet,  if Christ’s life is to be grasped at all, if we are to understand  his message at all,  this Gospel passage is pivotal, for it says that everything and everyone is somehow connected with everything and everyone else and that isolation does not exist, although we would like to think so.

You and I do not create connectedness. We discover it. We discover that we belong to one another and that we belong to Christ, in whom we grow, and who sustains and nourishes us. Once we discover our connectedness, admit of its meaning and value in our lives, then self-centeredness has no part in us, nor violence or killing competition.

Being connected with one another through Christ does not mean we lose our individuality with all its grandeur and funny little quirks. On this particular vine, the branches do not all look alike or act alike. We are ourselves – always in the process of becoming more ourselves. At the same time, we do not fear pruning, and we draw courage, example, energy, nourishment from one another because we belong to Christ .

Just a side note, You are invited to join me for:

The Synod on the Family
The Perspective of Married Couples

Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 7 to 8:30 pm
SSJ Motherhouse
150 French Road

This is a follow- up to our March program,
when Bishop Clark gave a comprehensive  overview
of the Synod on the Family which is to resume in October.
You need not have been to hear Bishop Clark
to take part in this conversation.
Barbara and Jack Clarcq, Bob and Janet Fein and
Barbara and Bob Finsterwalder
were asked what positive points they would make
if they were invited to speak at the coming Synod.
Come, hear their thoughts, and add your own as
we hone our perspectives and our language  
and draw encouragement
from them and from each other.

Please let us know you are coming. Just call the Fresh Wind phone line
and let us know you’re coming.          585.641.8184

  ~Sister Joan Sobala