Thursday, April 17, 2014

Under the Tuscan Sun

For Easter Sunday, how about a few snapshots of our recent trip to Tuscany?! 

We brought our students there for a week of some cultural soaking in the birthplace of the Renaissance.   The BBC series on the Medici primed us for conversation in the van on the ride down, and filled in some history gaps in our memory banks. 

The movie setting we anticipated had to wait several days, while we dealt with rain, cold, and minimal plumbing.  Lumpy mattresses on squeaking bunk beds completed the inconveniences, and that's all I'm going to say about that, because an inconvenient day in Tuscany is better than a good day at a computer, right?! 

The sunshine finally did break out, and we got to explore and admire the surrounding villages and hills with their vineyards and olive groves.   Appropriately enough, our accommodations sat on a hilltop, adjacent to an olive grove, managed by caretaker Giovanni and his family.  On one of our sunny days, Giovanni gave us a tour of the olive grove, and a glimpse of his vineyard, complete with lessons learned under his little patch of the Tuscan sun--lessons in both viticulture and spiritual life; hands-on lessons as he taught us to graft vines.

It was a long, rather rigorous descent to the bottom of the olive grove, into the vineyard.  Although Giovanni is not a commercial wine producer, he does some production for his 'friends'--we requested to be numbered among them!  

Finally Giovanni stopped, knelt, and began cutting and teaching: 

"Keep the branches horizontal so all the branches get the same amount of fruit." 

"You have to get to the heart of the branch for a graft to take."

"A graft only works for like species.  And so God can 'graft us in' because we are of the same nature as God."

"In good weather, there are diseases.  In bad weather, there are diseases.  The vine grower must watch over the vines in all seasons." that one...

"Hebrew wisdom has three paths: don't tell your children fairy tales, but Bible stories; then they will never question if something is true or a fairy tale.  Ask God for wisdom.  Ask God to reveal the lessons that are everywhere around you."

Seems simple enough.  We ended our morning in Giovanni's wine cellar, sampling the goodness of his wines, then gathering around him to bless him, thank him, and pray for him.  Then it was up the hill again, pondering wisdom, just in time for lunch--which included a snappy little red...Grazie Giovanni! 

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