In my personal tree calendar, the first half of summer, from the solstice until August 1, is the season of Vine. In my world there are two vines with a big presence: the sprawling grapevine that grows in our backyard, and the Himalayan blackberries that grow just about everywhere they can in Washington and Oregon west of the mountains. My chant for this season is:
O Vine of the summer
Teach me to grow in beauty and strength
Both of these vines are tough and irresistible. As a younger person I didn’t really think of myself that way, but life presents plenty of opportunities to learn. A friend of mine who is leaving my company after many years (not by his choice) is facing a job search, and it is exciting to see him face this challenge as a way to clarify and strengthen his commitment to himself as he is. I’m spending much more time lately musing on Buddhist concepts; and so I am regaining that useful critical voice asking “so what exactly is this ‘self’ of which you speak?” The vine that grows through us, strong tough and relentless, is more than an expression of ego. On the political stage we see the consequences of the ego-first ego-only approach. I’m speaking of something different, a growth that comes from identifying with a larger reality, a growth that comes through us and not just by us, a growth that we must say “yes” to and still demands much of us, but is by no means limited to the narrow compass of our own egocentric point of view.
Grape grows strong and soft, with magnificent beautiful leaves that unfurl in joyous self-expression. Blackberry grows strong and tough, prickly and intense without compromise. They both produce fragrant fruit in abundance. So may we grow in beauty and strength, by adopting with determination our own strategies of letting life force flow through us!