What is the “fruit of our labor”? Are our lives a fruitful vine? Grapes can take several seasons to produce any harvest, but once they do, the fruit may be plentiful, beautiful and delicious! Not only this, but grape vines provide shelter for plants that need shade. They are great for covering areas that are unsightly, barren, or can otherwise benefit from a large leafy expanse of visually appealing vegetation.
This is a pleasant metaphor for our lives. It may take us a few seasons to start seeing the fruits of our labor, but once the rewards start rolling in, we may be in a position to inspire, help, and benefit others as well. What ARE the fruits of our labor? We are short sighted if we think only in terms of financial prosperity.
While financial prosperity is certainly a blessing, and can bless others as well, the word “prosperity” is not limited to money. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, prosperity is known as “the condition of being successful or thriving”. While the definition goes on to say “especially economic well-being”, prosperity is not exclusively financial. Good fortune and success can be defined many other ways.
The pursuit of happiness is critical to thriving. We can measure the fruits of our labor by the presence of happy outcomes in our life. Money is a tool for achieving happy outcomes, but it’s only one tool of many. How profoundly we connect with fellow human beings in our relationships, our communities, and even random encounters with strangers online is an indicator of our ability to thrive. Connection is “fruit” on our spiritual grape vine.
Other signs of thriving may be in the small details. When we have a clean, organized, and pretty space to live in, it’s a healthy sign that we’re thriving. It means we’ve managed to keep up with the daily tasks and chores of our lifestyle, while achieving a pleasant home environment. This can be true of a tiny mobile home, an apartment, or a rental. Small and modest doesn’t have to mean dirty, shabby, and miserable.
The same goes for our physical appearance. We don’t need to pay for expensive hair cuts or designer clothes to feel confident and healthy. We just need to take good care of ourselves even when we’re stressed, tired, and anxious… ESPECIALLY when we’re stressed, tired, and anxious, as that’s when we need to take care of ourselves the most!
It’s no small thing to keep ourselves going in a healthy and positive way when the world feels difficult to handle. “Fruits of our labor” might mean that we’ve managed a shower, clean clothes, chores done, a decent meal, and a good night’s sleep… all so that we can tackle it all again the next day. One day at a time, every day, every season, until one day we notice that our harvest is beautiful.
A fruitful vine is evidence of a happy life. What that means to you is highly personal and individual. Perhaps we define a happy life as having family and friends, productive work that we (mostly) enjoy (not always, or it wouldn’t be work!), hobbies that make our time here on Earth feel fun, good health, faith that gives us hope and something good to believe in, the beauty of nature, good food and celebrations. Goodness, in other words.
I have spent time with people who are dying. They don’t talk about prosperity in terms of money. They talk about goodness. They talk about the good things from their life, their cherished memories from childhood and the people they love. Money seems unimportant at the end. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so important now?
So when I ask you- and myself- “is your life fruitful”, we need not wait until the grapes are in harvest years from now. Before the fruit appears, a grape vine is quite pretty. It layers green leafy patterns over anything it climbs. There’s something so peaceful about a grape vine, as it ascends to higher places and spreads its shade to other plants.
The fruits of our labor may be more about what we do BEFORE the fruit appears. How do we make our time here pleasant and peaceful for ourselves and others? How do we protect others? Are we growing and climbing? Fruit appears only after the vine has changed and grown.
The grape vine metaphor is on my mind because I’ve developed a special fondness for the grape vine I rescued from near death. It was clearanced out and then left to die. I took it on and nursed it to a large leafy green healthy state. But it’s yet to produce fruit. It will, one day. Until then, it is sheltering my other plants and attractive to look at. I wonder how big it will need to get before it finally bears fruit? I wonder the same about myself sometimes.
But rather than get discouraged, I feel inspired to get more grape vines and start again from the beginning. I’m imagining a (small) vineyard in my future. The vineyard produces beautiful grapes that we can make jelly, jams and wine from. There’s a house at this vineyard, where I one day live happily, busy in the kitchen with my family, working in my garden, painting my pictures, and talking to you, my dear friends.