This photo was taken in a small family vineyard in Burgundy, France. It shows the grapes at the moment of véraison, meaning the onset of ripening. As the farmer/winemaker was excited to share, this is one of the most important moments in the yearly lifecycle of a grapevine. It is a turning point where the vine transitions from growing to ripening, when acid accumulation ceases and sugar increases as the grape uses acid reserves for energy.
At this moment the winegrower changes the way s/he cares for the vines: inspecting, pruning and testing with an eye to the harvest. The changes in this time critically influence the ultimate quality of the grapes, so for the winegrower it is both exciting and stressful to support the process, fully aware that nature can’t be controlled.
It occurs to me that this could be a helpful metaphor for navigating our spiritual lives at this moment in history, with medical, economic, political and cultural crises converging. I’m finding some inspiration for this in Ignatian Spirituality. In the Spiritual Exercises, we are continually invited to live in the moment because the present is the only moment of grace. Moments of grace are moments of experiencing the presence of God – which is mostly about us paying attention.
Winegrowers talk about veraison as a “moment”, and when I listened to the one in Burgundy I experienced it as a grace. He was totally present to his vines and the life within them, an attentiveness that would guide his work for the crucial ripening process.
Ignatius points us to a vision of God who is alive and active in the world and in each person’s life. Now I believe this, of course, but my responses to daily stresses might indicate otherwise. How often do I listen to the latest news and feel simply overwhelmed? Because I don’t trust others in their roles? Because I can’t fix it all for myself and those I love? Because it is too big, or maybe even too evil?
When I take time to remind myself who is actually in charge, who loved us all into being and who is with us always, I can walk more humbly with God in each moment of the day and be open to divine guidance for my attitude and actions. And I can more readily experience each moment as a moment of grace.
Fear not, I am with you;
be not dismayed; I am your God.
I will strengthen you, and help you,
and uphold you with my right hand of justice. (Isaiah 41:10)