This morning sucked.
After less than 3 hours of sleep, I showed up to church over-dressed. After swapping out my dress and heels for shorts and a t-shirt, I promptly sat in spilled soup. So, back I changed into the dress. Ugh. Church in the park is supposed to be fun! It was not shaping up to be a happy event.
To make matters worse, I was reading the Epistle. Romans 12:9-21. I scarcely got through it. I began to tear up as I read the first two verses: Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good. Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
I was exhausted and emotional and emotionally spent and in thinking about "outdo[ing] one another in showing honor," I thought about how honored I had felt the night before in a conversation I had with a friend. And my voice caught as I tried to read the words, my vision blurring from the tears I was holding back.
After church, there was a fabulous potluck. There were all sorts of really wonderful looking foods. Most of which I, as a celiac, could not eat. Tired, weary, and with a headache of epic proportions, I changed back into my now soup-stained shorts and t-shirt, and curled up in the back of Jaguar with my dog to take a nap while my younger brother, who'd gotten a ride to church with us this morning, fished. This is neither an easy nor a comfortable feat for someone who is 5' 10" tall.
Things started to look up, however, later in the afternoon.
After we got home from church, I took a nap. In my bed! It was freakin' amazing!
Then, we headed out to the next church activity of the day.
There is a couple in my church who own a small vineyard. Just a few acres. They grow one variety of white grapes--La Crosse--and one variety of red--GR7.
A year ago, our church decided to begin offering wine as an option at communion. We began to serve wine for communion this past Easter.
Last year was our first year in what is to become an annual tradition. This time last year, I was in Colorado and missed the first annual stomping of the grapes. Today, I stomped for the first time. It was ROCK AWESOME!
After we harvested grapes from 5 vines, pulling in about 3-4 5-gallon buckets full of grapes, the stomping began. (This produced approximately 6 gallons of grape juice which will leave approximately 5 gallons wine at the end of the process). The first step is to stand in a tub of vinegar. This sanitizes the feet.
The second step is to stand in a tub of warm water. This washes away the vinegar.
Finally, into the grapes. A big, squishy tub of purple GR7 grapes. You can feel the grapes crush beneath your feet, the skin splitting, the meat popping forth and the sticky sweet juice running between your toes. It was the most disgusting fun I think I've ever had.
There seemed to be several techniques for stomping grapes. Some used stepped into the tub and twisted their way to the bottom, using their feet like a food mill, applying downward pressure and a corkscrew motion to extract the juice. Some simply stomped, marching place or stepping from side to side and back again.
I used my toes, grabbing the grapes and squeezing until they burst. I rolled large bunches over the top of my foot and used the instep of my other to crush them. I danced and laughed and delighted in the stomping of the grapes.
After this, our host and hostess--the vineyard owner and his wife--fed us an excellent meal of roast pork loin, potatoes, cole slaw, and a few varietals of wine. Lemonade and water were available as well. It was fun and church family and joy. It was the perfect ending to any day. More than anything, though, it felt like a gift from a God, a blessing, a bit of redemption and resurrection for a day which had started out so difficult.
I fully intend to this again next year!
*And did I mention? Our church's wine label reads "Ripley Redemption Red".