|AlexEli Vineyard. Image © Heidi Hoffman Photography|
I’m still on the vineyard. After two weeks of being back in Kansas City, my mind and heart are still on the vineyard. Our intension was to help Phil, Heidi and Phil’s mom Anita with the fall harvest at AlexEli. But something else happened in the midst of working. The life of the vineyard showed us a fruitful rhythm of growth and harvest, of life ending and beginning. It also became a Sabbath time. A time of מְנוּחָה menuchah, of tranquility, peace, serenity and the deepest possible sense of fertile, healing stillness. The physical labor of harvesting, pressing and storing the juice that will change to wine mysteriously engaged our spirituality. Through our senses we seemed to become involved in the experience of creation, with the process of grapes turning to wine and it surprised us with unexpected grace. We participated in a potent moment where creation renewed itself, witnessing both the inevitable recession of what is complete and the sacred forces of healing that promises love and life.
Sabbath is meant to change the rhythm of our lives and strengthen our human connections with the Divine. Sabbath creates a sacred time, leads us towards a mindfulness and a destination of experiencing simplicity. I think it is also about time—about slowing down the pace at which we choose to live, and about how quality is as important as quantity. We can’t always live in Sabbath time, which is why it occurs just one day in seven, but our retreat into a different time and space changes the rest of our time and space for the other six days and in our case, two weeks and counting. I have found a similar shifting of time and space occurs during the process of art making. In the mystery of creating, I have a sense of connection to the divine, in the physical making of art and a feeling of rest and spiritual renewal as a gift of the creative harvest.
I have experienced something powerful about intentionally setting apart a time to withdraw from quotidian life and do something that slows my rhythm, restores my creativity and refreshes me in a new beginning . What I most look forward to in a Sabbath experience is stillness. It can be the stillness the psalmist refers to, “be still and know…” and offers a restoring of our soul. I also feel that Sabbath is an incubator for creativity and wisdom.
Time and chemistry will be the guiding forces as the harvest turns to wine. Waiting is not easy for me, but in the process I know that it prepares a place for grace to be born. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”