A cloud of steam dissipates over the stove, leaving behind the cloying scent of a Protestant Eucharist. Concord grapes. They came into the house dusty, out of fields dry and hot, where they hung from their vines in such overripe corpulence that a mere touch sent them to the shaded earth below like rain drops that taste of wine. Or perhaps the dust was not the work of the fields, perhaps it is rather the dust of memory that lays over the attics of our minds. Beyond the plastic communion beakers of childhood, there is that old arbor, beaten gray by the rain but shelter nonetheless to many a moment of play. The thick, woody stems of the vines wove their way to the highest places, that the clusters might hang almost to eye level--perfect height for "Grampy" to pick them on his way back from the barn.
Small things may sometimes be the portal to that which exceeds them.
A seed falls into the dark earth and dies.
I'm sure many pages have been written on the subject, but I think there's a reason why farmers and, to a lesser degree, gardeners (for, after all, when one's whole livelihood is at play, desperation teaches much dearer lessons) have a reputation for being potential mystics. Not that they all are, nor even that many of them are. That would be a ridiculous claim. I simply mean that their labor is, at heart, a work of faith: every seed that is sown into the earth is a small prayer made with the full awareness that it will not bear fruit without a period of waiting, and even then, though the wait may be endured well and the soil tended with great care, the seed may never come forth into the light of morning. To live in this manner requires a certain courage that manifests itself as trust, and that courage draws its strength from love. One could not live that way unless there were something else within that reaches for something without.