Constructive Connections-Part 10


Constructive Connections is a fiction series.  They are beginning tales of how each person is crafted by God to fulfill a purpose, to enhance the narrative of life.  By contributing unique talents to serve one another, a tower God calls us to construct begins to form for His joy.

He looked up with irritation, “Grapes?  Is that all?” Jacob surveyed the kitchen.  Grapes were on every platter, every plate, every tiered cookie trivet.  
Finding so many grapes in our town proved to be tricky, but I had my sources on the look-out.  “Oh Jacob! I am so glad you came tonight to partake in our grape event!”
“You said it was a small group.  No mention of grapes. I didn’t eat dinner.  Are you a vegetarian or something?” he complained while popping three glorious Crimson Seedless into his stern scowl.
“No my friend, alas, I am a carnivore.  But tonight…Tonight! We are going to talk all about these delightful varieties of vine bearing fruit,” I answered him, smiling widely.  

Jacob Meyer was standing in my kitchen! It was a sight to behold. He was always serving, never allowing anyone to serve him. Such can be the way of a servant heart attempting to lose the pain of the past with the excessive.  But the night was to be focused on more than serving; it was to be about connecting and I was not going to let sourpuss jibes put a damper on the trajectory of the evening conversation.
A total of 5 people had come to gather for an evening of healing and fellowship; the most in my little living room since we had formed three months earlier.  I could not have been more overjoyed; 5 souls who longed for more. 5 hearts longing to be healed. 5 bodies yearning to become part of The Body.
“Hey Sabine, I noticed over yonder Peaceful Place Retirement has a bazaar next week,” Amy grabbed a handful of ripened Rieslings and popped them past the braces to become crushed by solid straitened molars.  “Do you think they’d let me set a spell with my wares?”
“Outside crafters are always welcome at Peaceful Place.  Most vendors are from the community; the residents love to talk with merchants,” I thought for a minute about how Amy was new to the area; all the way from Kentucky.  
“Let’s go there together Monday! I would love to introduce you to the coordinator.”
“What kind of crafts do you make?” Vera Candlewood inquired as she sat next to her husband Paul on the love seat.  The couple came every Thursday with their crisp leather covered Bibles. New to the faith, yet unable just yet to break in the pages.   
“I like to make stuff fer kids.  Ya know; stuff like slime, moon sand, and things.  Kid sized aprons are also a hit.”
“Oh, how many kids do you have?” Vera asked.
Amy looked down at the grape she was swirling between her thumb and index finger.  “None,” she said quietly. “Love kids, just God ain’t given the ‘yay O.K.’ yet. Besides, it’s just me and Bruce this round, I guess.  It’s fine, ya know,” she covered when she noticed Vera’s seat-shifting discomfort. “Bruce is enough mess maker for my liking,” she snickered.
“Who’s Bruce? Boyfriend?” Jacob piped in while testing each selection of grape variety without looking up, missing the very essence of apparent agony Amy must have been experiencing.  “What?” he questioned as he received the right tone of my glare.
“Bruce is my older brother.  He’s got some special needs. Mom was always there, so we helped each other take care of ‘im.  But since she’s gone…I’m it,” she looked down at her phone. Poor dear; she must have been awaiting the paid caregiver’s eventual call for instruction.  “State wants to take ‘im, but we will get to stick together if the Good Lord is willin’ and the creek don’t rise.”
Amy and I had met over doughnuts in the church lobby a few weeks prior.  She was standing against a wall as the space filled with people after service.  The delightful conversation we had led to an invitation to our smallish group gathering.
“Grapes!” I exclaimed; admittedly a little too loud.  “There are over 80,000 grape varieties in the world. Each has its own place on the vine.  
Ever notice that sometimes grapes, even though they are right next to each other on the vine, can taste different?  One sugary sweet cotton candy,” I shot Jacob a look, “yet the next is small and tart as lemon? Well, they are all related.  Each grape grew at different rates, but they all grew from the same vine. But I noticed something as I washed them, preparing for this evening of grape expectations…Some of the fruit were no longer on the vine.  
Fallen off their stems. They were left in the bottom of the bag. No longer…connected.”
I walked over to the fridge and pulled out a mixed bag of stemless grapes.  “These poor dears are like us sometimes. They have fallen off the vine and are left without connection.”  I paused for dramatic affect. “We, friends, can be as unconnected as these poor morsels, left at the bottom of the bag, fragments of lovely sweet flavor left untasted.
“Sabine, I am not a grape.  And I am connected, thank you very much. I have 5 jobs I do at the church and I am happy.  Can we get past the grapes, already?”
“Oh, Dear Jacob.  We are all at times the grapes that don’t make it to the place of honor.  Somehow, we have fallen to the bottom; passed over, looked past, not washed, not noticed.  We are still Jesus people, we were once alive and growing and becoming so sweet with knowledge and wisdom.  But something happened…a death, an accident, an incident, a life interruption. Something caused our fall from the cluster.”
Amy looked down thoughtfully at the grape in her hand.  “How do we get back on the vine?”
“Oh dear sweet Amy!  Jesus is so amazing, He allows us to be grafted back onto the branches when we are ready!  That is the amazing grace-we are His amazing grapes and He is just waiting for us to come back to the bunch!”  
“But it is hard to connect, especially when you have difficult situations to account for,” she plead.
“Think about how God gifted you uniquely, perfectly.  He endowed you with creativity! Slime is a great example of a God gift!”
She looked at me as if I had three eyes.
“You could bless some of our preschoolers with teaching them how to create their own slime.  The small gesture of sharing can be the first step to getting back to the cluster, attached to the stem, receiving the healing nourishment that comes directly from the vine.”
Her eyes brightened as she considered.  “Slime? I suppose I could teach some kiddos how to make it.  Might be fun!” Then she looked around at the other guests. “But how does that get me back on the vine?”
I went to her and held her hand.  “We are called to bring our gifts, not to expect anything else.  God will work through every slimy interaction, every slimy conversation and he will do the connecting when you show up.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.   John 15:5

~Written by Jennifer Love