The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


From being fruit to bearing fruit

That's the transition, and challenge, in midlife

Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches" (John 15:5). And I wonder: When did I stop being a grape? When did I go from being fruit to bearing fruit?

There's something quite remarkable, quite satisfying, about being fruit — the result of someone's efforts, the outcome of their energies, the fruit of their labors. It's the tears in a parent's eyes at graduation, the smile on a pastor's face at her intern's ordination, the extra push a coach gives to a runner with potential.

So when did I become a branch? My less-poetic friend asks, "When did we get old?" Perhaps it was when we stopped looking like grapes, no longer ripe and smooth-skinned. Perhaps it was when people's perceptions of us changed. Perhaps we became branches when the realities of life made it harder to pull up stakes. Or when it dawned on us that saying yes also means saying no, and we finally gave ourselves permission to lament.

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