I just returned from an amazing week at Bishop's Ranch in Healdsburg California. I participated in a CREDO Conference for Episcopal clergy seeking to review their life and ministry in terms of spiritual life, vocation, financial situation and health. I was blessed to meet new friends and get to know people from all over the country. While we all are in ministry, the shape of our calls were all very different. But, out of this week, the opportunity to reflect and reorient our ministries was afforded us in a supportive environment.
One of the visual metaphors for us was two bonsai grapevines. No big surprise as Healdsburg is in the heart of the Sonoma Valley viticultural area! I spent my childhood in the East Bay of San Francisco - back when Walnut Creek actually had walnut orchards growing there. When family or friends visited, we often took a day trip to Napa Valley or Sonoma to tour the wineries. I found myself recalling how grapevines are grown and tended. They require pruning every year - and very deep pruning at that. The only way good fruit grows is for the canes to be ruthlessly pruned from the vine at the end of every annual harvest.
It is the same way with our lives. The author of Ecclesiastes says there is "a time for every matter under heaven." I have come to realize that there are places in my life that need pruning. Some things will be easy - the dead branches of activities which are "not urgent and not important" are easy to spot (yeah, the TV will be off much more and there will be much less Facebook time). The hard work will be pruning some areas which have born fruit in the past and have nutured me but which are now becoming fallow and may even be holding me back from where God is calling me. Those will be harder to prune and may involve some discomfort as I do so.
I now set out to work on my CREDO plan and pray that as I prune, God will reveal the new growth underneath.