¨What cannot be spoken must be wept.¨
After a long, harsh winter, the bare, pruned branches of the vine are more than ready for the warmth of spring. As the temperature rises and the roots begin to warm, life-bearing sap begins to course upwards through the plant. As it arrives to places that were cut, it drips out, creating a weeping effect. Although this poignant stage does not last long, it often ¨weeps¨ up to five liters of liquid per plant! This sap cleanses & hydrates the cut and as it slows and coagulates, it creates a healing seal where a new bud will push through into the new season.
This extraordinary and exquisite example in nature is clear: After a winter season of life, there are things to mourn. This period of grief is necessary and essential for healing. Tears play a critical role in this process and provide forward movement into the new season. Indeed, without this ¨weeping¨, the life cycle of the vine would be impaired.
If you are not keen on crying, consider this:
¨You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?¨
God finds tears so precious He keeps a record of them! I find this astonishing. They are important. They are noticed. They are recorded and saved. They are sacred. (They also must keep a lot of angels busy!) It has been an unremitting curiosity to me to see what He will do with them someday.
As I have been revisiting John 15, I have been profoundly moved by this example in nature. To those familiar with vineyards listening to Jesus, this ¨weeping¨ of the vine was probably common knowledge. To me, it only came upon deeper study of this life cycle and I began to ask myself: What is it about winter that makes the vine weep?
True winter is harsh. While not every vineyard experiences truly harsh winters depending on their geographical location, many do. There is no doubt that part of what makes the winter difficult is starting it out pruned! Talk about vulnerable, naked and ugly. When we experience spiritual pruning, it can quickly become emotional and physical as well. We suddenly find ourselves with no external fruit or beauty or purpose...we are prisoners of waiting through a long, dark season. Many of us hunker down into survival mode when this happens and give in to the desolation & loneliness. We may feel impoverished, unsheltered, exposed and confused. But if we can use this vulnerable time to focus on internal dealings with God and the opportunity to more deeply connect, depend and persevere (all aspects of abiding), we will reap invisible benefits. Because though not much happens to the human eye to the vine in winter, there is unprecedented growth underneath the surface of the ground. This is the time when roots go deep and we realize: We need winter for depth.
After this formidable and defenseless time, warmth begins to propel life-giving signals calling forth nutrients. They surge upwards in the sap and when they reach the vine´s wounds, the vine ¨weeps.¨ (Perhaps it is partly in relief that winter is over.) When the sap reaches those openings, there is only one place to go: out. Those very cuts are gateways for healing tears and for the ushering in of spring. If we refuse to embrace this part of the transition between winter and spring, we will abort a crucial piece of God´s plan for us. Winter is meant to be mourned. Grief is essential to authentic healing. Tears are instrumental to experiencing the Spirit´s curative flow of restoration. Weeping creates space for future rejoicing and the welcoming of a new season.
Nature´s mysteries are God´s mysteries. Nature´s stories are God´s stories. I am so grateful that He shares them with us and that their example and beauty are for our joy and insight. Do not be afraid of the winter...or of the weeping.
¨I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.¨
John 15: 1
¨Remain in me as I also remain in you.¨