Vintage Wine from Wounded Vine

‘To be without some of the things you want
is an indispensable part of happiness.’
(Bertrand Russell)

To forego things we so enjoy
is vital to our happiness.

This gospel of philosopher
Bertrand Russell, atheist,
greets one’s arrival at the bar
of Locking Castle’s public house
‘Bucket and Spade’.
Jesus himself
labeled by his enemies
as glutton, drinker of good wine –
fully endorsed this gospel truth:

To forego things we so enjoy
is vital to our happiness.

I’ll drink to that!

‘No pain, no gain’;
‘no cross, no crown’;
to rise, we fall;
to reap, we sow;
we lose to win;
let go to gain;
so, at the end,
‘the last is first’.

God always gives
the best to those
who choose to leave
the choice to him.

Nevertheless,
he asks of each:
‘What do you wish
I do for you?’
First, fast to pray –
forego the food you so enjoy;
delight in God, refresh his heart,
and pray in faith;
then he will grant your heart’s desires.

Forego for him what you enjoy
and he’ll bestow true happiness.

Humble yourself beneath God’s hand;
in course of time he’ll honour you.

The vine of God bears testimony
to the truth of this philosophy:

‘While surgeon’s knife removes disease,
the gardener’s blade chops wood away
I thought was good and wished to keep.

‘In springtime my pulsating sap
complained of cost and sacrifice.
From vantage point of vintage days,
indulging joys of harvestime,
I’m glad I yielded to the blade
that made me bleed, to fill my grapes
with blood-red juice of choice red wine
that crowns the year; this he can share
with guests of his who drink with cheer
in celebration of his joy.

‘I gave up what I so enjoyed
to gain this vintage happiness.

‘I’m offering whole baskets full
of luscious grapes.
Though pruned at first,
I’m no old prune eventually.
Such prized possessions from my grasp
at first he prised. This paltry sum
I freely paid. Now with surprise
I realise how many and
how huge in size this produce
of his enterprise.

‘And, even now, the grapes he gleans
I gladly yield beneath the feet
of treaders of the winepress who
squash and squidge between their toes
in tingling fullness of the fruit
of overflowing happiness.’

If vines had voice
would they not shout
of no-lose choice?
They would sing out
of pruned and trodden
gospel wine:

‘Forego the fondling of the flesh,
fantasized imaginings.
Your wood feels good, that’s fine; the wine’s
divine, it’s best, and tastes sublime.
In his delight be satisfied.’

Hugh Thompson (19 July l999)

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