The grape vines climb out of the roadside ditch on Hill Road like zombies. Their arms splay forward reaching for purchase, seeking anything with which to cling. In my more playful moods, I imagine that they erupt from the ground looking to eat my brains…because zombies always eat brains.
The wild grape vines erupt suddenly in the mid-July heat. They grow quickly. Like all vines, they require support. They are desperate to cling to something else. They are not constructed to reach outward and upward without the assistance of something stronger. Biologically, vines use specialized stems called tendrils to gain leverage and support for the whole system. Tendrils twine around by a sense of touch. They are specially designed to circle and grip whatever they can.
If you look closely at the picture, this tendril has entwined itself with a beard of grass. The grasp of the tendril has already bent the grass blade downward. As in all parasitic relationships in nature, the survival of one life form requires the demise of another.
As a lifeguard, I was taught a few escape moves. The response of a struggling swimmer is to grab on to anyone or anything that comes near. I thought it an odd skill to learn and practice. Until one summer day, a young one taking the swimming test in the pool floundered. I was standing next to him in the pool. His body already understood the danger and his body’s response was to cling to mine with every fiber in his being. If we were in deeper water, we were both going down.
If you look closer at the picture, this tendril has wrapped itself needfully around the beard of grass. The blade of grass dips toward the tendril willingly, to play on the word, tenderly. As in all relationships, the survival of one requires the support of another.
Needfully and tenderly we embrace people around us. Needfully and tenderly, God dips toward us. As in all relationships, needfully and tenderly, we bear each other up—our survival depends upon it.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.