Nouwen: Crushed Grapes make New Wine
“Sometimes our sorrow overwhelms us so much that we no longer can believe in joy. Life just seems a cup filled to the brim with war, violence, rejection, loneliness, and endless disappointments.
At times like this we need our friends to remind us that crushed grapes can produce tasty wine.” Henri Nouwen, Henri Nouwen Society, Daily Meditation, from Bread for the Journey, by Henri Nouwen, 1997 HarperSanFrancisco.
Our God does not promise that we will not experience sorrow or tragedy, but God does promise that God will be with us through our despair and that out of every Good Friday experience comes a resurrection, an Easter. When we, our friends, or those we come to comfort are in the middle of sorrow and pain, these words are not comforting. We are called at first to be the love of God just by our presence to those who grieve. There are not words to comfort, only our love and presence, which can be a healing presence.
As the sorrow eases, we can slowly give this promise of an Easter experience where crushed grapes turn into wine. I see people whose son committed suicide develop programs for suicide prevention so that others will not have to go through their experience. I see those who have experienced the death of a loved one now be the first ones to reach out to others whose loved one has died and just go and sit beside them for hours.
Parents whose child has been killed in a tragic accident build a playground or a trail so that other children will have a safe place to go. A family whose teenage daughter dies in a car accident begins a program for the arts for teens in public schools since art made such a difference in their daughter’s life. A group who develop a friendship in a grief recovery group develop a funeral team at their church to care for families before, during, and after the service.
All of us are a product of our wounds. We have a choice. We can learn and work and live through our wounds and over time at some point experience another Easter and taste a new wine, or we can stay isolated and buried in our Good Friday tomb. My experience is that Christ stays there with us as long as it takes, ready to roll away the stone as new life emerges.