I’ve seen grapevines all my life in Wine Country of Napa and Sonoma Counties. But walking through the Wine Region of Rioja in Spain was a different experience. We were not whizzing by in a car. I could reach out and touch those vines, feel the texture of the leaves. I stepped on the same soil they were growing in. It was much more real.
We often saw workers in the vineyards trimming and pruning the vines by hand. It reminded me of this passage in John’s Gospel.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed[ by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. John 15: 1-6
Entering into the rhythm of the Camino, “abiding” in it, brought me joy and meaning. As I walked, I felt an unspoken connection with other Pilgrims walking with me towards a common goal. I also walked in the joy of the present moment. With each step, I felt very much like a branch connected to the Vine of life, being nourished and encouraged to grow spiritually and physically.
I walked by ancient grapevines, twisted and rough. Bright green, pliant vines were bursting out of their knarled fists of bark.
One day we passed a pile of grapevines that had been pulled out, and stacked by the side of the Camino. Their fruitful life had ended. New grapevines were being planted in their place. That, too, was a symbol of Resurrection, and gave me new insight into Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John.