My father was a vinedresser, which is part of the reason he won my heart. He had a wonderful way about him. His gentle care with those vines, his wisdom, his prudence in the time of pruning, the gentleness he exercised: these were the things he passed on to me.
He was also this way towards me. I knew that I was precious to him, just as those plants knew, in their thriving. And just as those plants bore abundant fruit, so, with a heart turned towards him, I was also able to bear the abundant fruit of love.
One day we had to leave the vineyard, and it might have broken my father's heart but for the hope that if he entrusted it to someone, maybe, when we returned, it wouldn't be in utter despair. So he chose a few good men, left them with some instructions, and off we went.
Weeks turned to months, and at harvest time my father, with a longing in his heart to see the fruit, sent one of our servants to retrieve some.
A few days later the alarm went up. Someone was staggering up the path to where we waited. Black-eyed, bloody-nosed, empty-handed, our servant returned, perplexed.
My father sighed and shook his head. "They must have forgotten," he murmured to me with a sad smile. Undeterred, and with a growing eagerness to see the fruit, my father sent another servant. This one came back worse than the first.
After the third servant returned, my father grew serious. "What shall we do?" he said aloud, closing his eyes."
He has such a good heart," I thought as I studied his face, wishing someone could fully represent his heart, his way, his kind eyes, his warm smile. I wondered why the caretakers had treated the servants so shamefully. Had they really forgotten? Had they been lazy, not bearing fruit that matched the glory of my father? Had they lawlessly changed things in the vineyard, not heeding his instructions?
The way my father had established produced beautiful fruit, and there was actually a whole life behind it. The vineyard would only flourish if every member of the household was engaged in caring for the vine.
That was part of what had been so glorious about my father's vineyard. Everyone worked harmoniously towards the same goal. And our work came straight from a heart of love for him, because of the way he cared for widows and orphans, and the love he showed to all of us.
Surely, if the caretakers had gone astray, they just needed a little direction, a little reminder of the way the vineyard was when it was done his way.
My father opened his eyes and rested them upon me for a moment. An idea had come to him, and he smiled softly as he mused on it. "Hmmm..." He stood up and exclaimed, "Yes! That is what I shall do!" and clapped his hands together.
"What, Father?" I asked. "What shall we do?"
"I shall send my beloved son," he said, beaming at me. "Surely they will respect him! Surely they will restore the way." Then he smiled his gentle smile, and I went about preparing for my mission.
How do you think the story ended? Did they respect the son? Was the vineyard restored to its former glory?