April 9, 2021

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Take the time to marvel at new growth around, within you

Kimberly PohoveyIt’s a rare 70-degree, sunny day in March. My husband and I take advantage of the unexpectedly gorgeous day to accomplish some yard work.

I am busy clearing the flower beds surrounding our back patio when from the corner of my eye I see a bird land on the pergola above my head. Looking up, I see where the bird is beginning to create a nest in the tangles of grape vines above the wooden structure.

I take a moment to study the vines. When we moved into this house 10 years ago, we were grateful that the beautiful pergola was already in place. Soon after, we planted grape plants at the base of each of the four pillars. As the vines began to grow, we tied, pruned and trained the vines to go up and over the top of the pergola to eventually form a canopy and provide shade to the patio below.

These vines, in late March, look barren. They are simply a tangle of dark brown twigs. No leaves are budding yet. From experience, I know that in a matter of weeks new life will spring from what looks like dead plants. Buds will form, leaves will burst forward and eventually in the late summer, grape clusters will dangle across the pergola ceiling.

I start to think about how amazed I am of the new growth that comes from a seemingly dead state. Year after year, we witness the world go dormant during the cold winter only to see new life erupt in the spring. Throughout the winter, we often sprinkle ashes from our fireplace at the bottom of the grape vines which serve as a type of fertilizer that enables prolific growth and helps bear more fruit. I take this as a sign of how we humans also need to experience death to spring forth new life.

“Death” in this case can come in many forms—sickness, suffering, loneliness. We often go dormant when experiencing these struggles. However, once we conquer these hardships, God calls us forth to new life, to new growth. Much like the endless cycle of Earth’s seasons, we too face seasons of death and renewal throughout our lives.

This cycle bears fruit—literally in this case. I think about the bird I saw carrying bits of twigs to the top of the pergola. She will create a nest in which to birth her babies within the protective confines of the grape vines. Last year, we counted three such nests up there.

During the summer months, these vines will provide not only shade but natural beauty where underneath we can relax, experience calm, and awe at God’s creation. Late in the summer, we will harvest our grapes to make jars and jars of jelly which we give away to family and neighbors. This year, we hope to produce wine as well. All this happens because we planted a foundation of grape vines, we tended them, we fed them, and in the end, we waited through the seasonal barrenness to appreciate the new growth.

This Easter season, take the time to marvel at new growth around and within you. Appreciate the reappearance of singing birds, enjoy the colorful blossoms of flowers, and be thankful for the struggles that enable you to grow in new life with Christ.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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