A solitary grape vine planted by my grandfather sits just east of the house. Every year I hope the vine might not fall to little devouring bugs.
At the first sight of the holes in the leaves, fingers search and find itty bitty black worm-shaped diners infecting my vine. For some reason, I wait and don't come back to kill them for a couple of days. The damage spreads. I decide to tackle the job and turn each leaf over, smushing the enemies dead one by one.
I am glad to see the fruit growing.
But sad that the leaves were still damaged.
It makes me think of residual soul damage leftover from sin infections I allow to grow. Noticing the eaten leaves, sometimes I still wait before smushing it out. Often, despite small bits of visible fruit, there is still damage left behind from worldly things I allowed.
Praise be to God, who gives us an image of hope for sickly leaves in the Gospel of John: 1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Footnotes: The Greek for prunes also means cleans.
Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.