The sheep were recently rotated onto the pasture previously occupied by the horses, who got first dibs at the blackberry bushes running down the fence line. Our neighbors are gracious about “donating” anything growing on our side of the fence to our animals. The horses have pretty much picked the fruit clean, but apparently the leaves are just as tasty to the sheep! This photo was taken just as the sun began to set on a hot, summer day fueled by a southern breeze. On the farm it’s called the Golden Hour. In the human world, it’s called Happy Hour. In any case, it’s a wonderful hour to pause, rest, and reflect.
Growing up in an Italian culture, it wasn’t unusual to be served fruit wines made in the basement by the locals. This ranged from blackberry wine to dandelion wine to grape wine or whatever was in season. Apparently this isn’t just an Italian thing because besides Boone’s Farm (if you know, you know), the singer Gordon Lightfoot, of happy memory, put out a Side B song on his album of hits called Blackberry Wine. I’ve always been a “Side B” listener, often finding the songs on the flip side of the vinyl far more interesting. It goes like this:
There's a south wind risin' and
the moon shines on my window sill.
I've got a feeling I might walk on over the hill.
I'm bent but not broken, all I need is some rest
and a bottle of your very best
It’s been a long, hot, and laborious day on the farm. The list of things-to-do is only half-checked. And it’s not just farm life. It’s life-life that sometimes has me feeling like I just might walk on over the hill. But that’s okay. I’m bent but not broken, all I need is some rest. And a bit of blackberry wine would be quite fine.
It’s good to know when to stop and rest. It’s good to stop and marvel at the golden hues of sunset and the delightful sight of sheep feasting on blackberry leaves. It’s good to recognize and embrace the weariness my body feels, knowing I gave my all to the tasks at hand. It’s good to turn from water to wine at the end of a very long day.
It’s also good to crawl on my knees to the one who turned water into wine. He who was crushed on the cross like the fruit of the vine knows what it is to be poured out, to be bent but not broken. Some traditions hold that blackberries, with their dark purple color, are representative of the blood of Christ, and that the crown of thorns placed on his head was made of blackberry brambles. Thorns don’t seem to bother the sheep but we know they tortured and bloodied the Lamb of God.
As with all earthly pleasures, the blackberry (or other) wine in a cup will offer a happy-hour or so of rest. But the Master of the vineyard offers supernatural relief from our burdens and beckons us to a manner of rest that is much deeper and far more enduring. In his mercy and great goodness, he offers us rest for our souls.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30
Yes, there’s a south wind risin’ and I’m bent and sorely in need of rest. But I’m looking to the east, because that’s the direction from whence my King shall come. And in Him, and Him alone, I will find rest for my soul and the cup of my salvation.
How can I repay the Lord
for all the great good done for me?
I will raise the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
~Psalm 116: 12-13