Dear Friends

When deciding where to go on holiday, Charlotte and I like to explore somewhere we can immerse ourselves in the culture and history of the place we are visiting. One such place from our recent cruise was La Palma, one of the many islands in the Canaries. La Palma is the most north-westerly island and like most was formed from submarine volcanic activity. We had the opportunity to island’s volcanoes called volcano de San Antonio’.

However, for an island which is volcanic it was noticeably very fertile and green. This is fundamentally due to La Palma having a mild and consistent tropical semi-arid climate, which you soon become acclimatized to. Their local economy is primarily based on agriculture and as a community they are keen to retain their traditions and culture. This was very prevalent as the climate suggests many of the homes and fields had an abundance of banana farms ‘Plhtanos’ and vineyards.

Now Charlotte and I never to turn down the opportunity to participate in some wine tasting, and therefore visited a winery where the wine was very palatable; this meant that a couple of bottles returned home with us! What was striking from the vineyards we saw was that the vines are not presented in a way that most conventional vines are grown. The vines on La Palma grow close to the ground and their roots extend deep down into the soft porous lava to the rich soil below. The reason for growing the vines so close to the ground is because the harsh winds that the island experiences would damage the fruit if exposed. The meticulous way in which the gardeners care and nurture the fruit is very labour intensive as there is no modern machinery for harvesting. Many of the vineyards are situated on the sides of volcanic mountains and can be very treacherous.

How the vines are grown made me think about our walk with Christ and the image portrayed in the gospel of John, where Jesus says; “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5. Whilst considering how the gardeners on La Palma tend for their vines using traditional methods and labouring year after year to produce good fruit, think about where your journey with Jesus is taking you. Are your roots deep with­in the rich soil that Jesus provides? Are you nurturing and caring for others in bearing new fruit? Does Jesus need to prune the vine to encourage new growth in you? Jesus said; “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “John 15:7-8

Shalom

Martin