can a grape break your heart…maybe it’s time for Grace

“Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together
the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken.
Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?”

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


(red grapes /Julie Cook / 2021)

What causes a heart to break?

What causes that overwhelming suffocating pressure inside
your chest when you realize that your heart is actually breaking?

Is it sorrow?
Is it loss?
Is it absence?

What is it that causes that deafening pounding inside one’s brain
while an unending flow of tears leaves an etched trail cascading
down cheeks?

Is it fatigue?
Is it distance?
Is it emptiness?

Could a grape break your heart?

The fact that the bag stated seedless grapes and yet they were full of seeds…
can that break your heart?

Grapes most likely will never break your heart…

But maybe it’s who was last eating those grapes…
Maybe, just maybe, that’s who can break that heart.

What about a can of diet Dr. Pepper?
Can a soft drink break you heart?

Doctors might agree that caffeine isn’t necessarily good for your heart
as it might just make your heart race, however the chances are that
that drink won’t leave your heart broken…

But maybe, just maybe, it’s the person who was last drinking that soda
who might break your heart.

So what about an endlessly hungry, bottomless pit, of a cat…can such a cat break your heart?

The incessant meowing of one who wants feeding at each and every turn,
might break your nerves, but most likely a hungry cat won’t break your heart…

Yet maybe, just maybe it’s the thought of who last fed the cat which
can break your heart.

And what of a stack of wine corks…
Can a random stack of wine corks break your heart?

Some agree that drinking wine might actually be good for your heart, it is however
doubtful that an idle stack of leftover corks would ever break your heart…

But maybe, just maybe, it’s the creator of that idle stack that might just
break your heart.

And so what of scent?

What of the lingering scent that remains from one who was, only moments
prior, holding you in their arms?
Does that remaining presence which is now woven into the fibers of your own clothing–
does that scent of that person who is now no longer physically present…can that
remaining scent break your heart?

Maybe.

It might just  break your heart because you find yourself holding on tightly to your
own piece of clothing…burying your face deeply into that shirt while breathing
in as if your very life depended on it…trying desperately to catch a last lingering reminder
that love was indeed present despite a now empty and silent distance.

And so what about homework?
Can homework break your heart?

Homework…
There was a time when certain types of homework nearly broke my will…
but school work never broke my heart.

Yet what I am discovering however, is that the homework of learning how to accept Grace, allowing Grace to penetrate
into what was once perceived to be an undeserving soul…Grace that yearns to pry open and
break down one’s ancient walls…walls built to be impenetrable…yet walls that must succumb to Grace that is now being offered freely and graciously from one to another…is a lifeline that I never knew how badly I needed.

And so it now seems that that simple act of an offering of Grace can indeed break one’s heart…and more often than not, that breaking is agonizingly painful, yet it is also something most necessary if one hopes to push through this thing we call life.

And so my hope for you is that you too may also be fortunate—fortunate to find and to receive this gift known as Grace…

Yes, it might just break your heart, but that breaking just might be the only way you can find it and hold on to it.

“I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”
Hermann Hesse

learning lessons to practice lessons

The Lord wills that his disciples possess a tremendous power:
that his lowly servants accomplish in his name all that
he did when he was on earth.

St. Ambrose


(a pair of red shoulder hawks hanging out in the pine tops / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Some people who think themselves naturally gifted don’t want
to touch either philosophy or logic.
They don’t even want to learn natural science.
They demand bare faith alone—-
as if they wanted to harvest grapes right away without
putting any work into the vine.
We must prune, dig, trellis, and do all the other work.
I think you’ll agree the pruning knife, the pickaxe,
and the farmer’s tools are necessary for growing grapevines,
so that they will produce edible fruit.
And as in farming, so in medicine:
the one who has learned something is the one who has practiced
the various lessons, so that he can cultivate or heal.
And here, too, I say you’re truly educated if you bring everything
to bear on the truth.
Taking what’s useful from geometry, music, grammar, and
philosophy itself, you guard the Faith from assault.”

St. Clement of Alexandria, p. 13
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

guarding faith from assault

“When we attend to the needs of those in want,
we give them what is theirs, not ours.
More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.”

Pope Saint Gregory the Great


(shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2019)

Some people who think themselves naturally gifted don’t want to touch either
philosophy or logic.
They don’t even want to learn natural science.
They demand bare faith alone—as if they wanted to harvest grapes right away without putting
any work into the vine.
We must prune, dig, trellis, and do all the other work.
I think you’ll agree the pruning knife, the pickaxe, and the farmer’s tools are necessary
for growing grapevines, so that they will produce edible fruit.
And as in farming, so in medicine: the one who has learned something is the one who has
practiced the various lessons, so that he can cultivate or heal.
And here, too, I say you’re truly educated if you bring everything to bear on the truth.
Taking what’s useful from geometry, music, grammar, and philosophy itself,
you guard the Faith from assault.”

St. Clement of Alexandria, p. 13
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

When the scuppernongs hang heavy

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
― Carson McCullers

“The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong.”

Elinor Wylie

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(wild growing scuppernongs after a morning rain / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(wild scuppernongs hang high in the trees / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

What is your trigger—that certain thing, person or place. . .
when seen, heard or tasted. . .transports you to a different time, a different place?
That single something that magically erases the years and lightens your step?

Is it a smell, a perfume, a scent. . .
Perhaps the sound of bells ringing, children laughing or birds singing. . .
Maybe it’s the sight of a balloon, a leaf gently blowing in the breeze. . .
or maybe, just maybe. . .
it’s the sight of the scuppernongs hanging heavy on the vine. . .

Pour, Bacchus! the remembering wine;
Retrieve the loss of me and mine!
Vine for vine be antidote,
And the grape requite the lote!
Haste to cure the old despair,—
Reason in Nature’s lotus drenched,
The memory of ages quenched;
Give them again to shine;
Let wine repair what this undid;
And where the infection slid,
A dazzling memory revive;
Refresh the faded tints,
Recut the aged prints,
And write my old adventures with the pen
Which on the first day drew,
Upon the tablets blue,
The dancing Pleiads and eternal men.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bacchus
line 50-65

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(wild scuppernongs / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(wild scuppernongs / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)