Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dendrites, from the Latin word for "tree"

Permaneced en mí, y yo en vosotros. Como el sarmiento no puede dar fruto por sí mismo si no permanece en la vid, así tampoco vosotros si no permanecéis en mí. Yo soy la vid, vosotros los sarmientos; el que permanece en mí y yo en él, ése da mucho fruto, porque separados de mí nada podéis hacer. Juan 15, 4-5

Abide in me, and I in you. 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. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace each of us may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

My favourite colour is green. At least that’s what I wrote down in my class at the University of Arizona, a little bit rolling my eyes at the elementary level of crowd mixer.

I love green because it is alive, twisting and stretching and shifting, reaching upward. Not that anyone asked; that’s just what I thought.

I also love those little green gmail lights. Steady green from all over the world. From people I know and care about. Right now, there is Antonio who I met eating breakfast in Mondoñeo, Jenny my beloved sister, Dana in South Africa, Krista who I met in the Dominican Republic, and who now lives in Texas, Buffy who I met in my living room and once again in Texas, and who now lives in New York City, and Paige DeHaan. These little green lights so totally remind me of dendrites (from the Latin word for "tree), the intricate nerve fibers through which neurons receive communication from each other. This body-mind interaction is what stimulates brain cells to grow and connect with each other in complex ways.

I guess I also love dendrites.

And the thing is that leapt out for me from this quite familiar passage is the plurality of the noun, branches. And the thing is that grapevines are for the most part self-pollinating, so it really helps to have lots of branches flowering at the same time since wind and sundry insects only play a small part in the fertilization process.

The prayer is that the Church (a collective noun that takes on a singular verb) abides in His steadfast faith and love that each of us (singular pronoun that often confuses students because of the plural object of the prepositional phrase) may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion. It is not me, myself and I and Jesus tromping through the world, which is sometimes what it feels like. That would actually produce a pretty sorry little clump of grapes.

Rather it is the Church, the broad sweeping collection of gifts and callings joined together to the vine, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. It is through the Church that the manifold wisdom of God shall be known, according to His eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

He accomplished, as in It is finished, past tense, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And as I was riding my bicycle with the mushy brakes to class yesterday and wondering about fruit and what it would look like in Writing 591, I was reminded of the love, joy, peace fruit of the Spirit, against such there is no law.

Yesterday I was handed a picture, from what I imagine was cut out of something like National Geographic, and told to write about it with lots of concrete detail. It is a pretty dreadful picture, of a ram strapped down and heading into a MRI machine. Why I do not know. A ram with matted, stained wool bound helplessly by crumpled stained bands sliding into a smooth plastic clicking hoop.

Which led my thoughts back to Annie Dillard and my pilgrimage as I considered how many of us are equally held in a vise grip of silent angst, with no words to imagine hope and green pastures outside of the low mechanical click.

This is our world.

May I bear much fruit.


Abide.