I am the Vine, you are the branches.
When I was a small child, it was customary to harness little ones when you took them outside. When my grandmother took me to the park, on would go the harness and off we would walk. Not being a particularly adventuresome child, I didn't mind at all. On the contrary, as I toddles after birds I couldn't catch, or explored mushrooms my grandmother warned me not to eat, or made friends with curious dogs, I always felt safe, knowing I was connected to someone who was always there to take care of me. (As a side note, she also taught me the names of what we met, but one day, when she pointed up at the sky as a plane flew over, she asked, "And what is that." I am reputed to have considered it carefully and then answered, "A DC-3". I was three years old. But I was also an airline pilot's daughter!)
The image of the vine and the branches conjures up this memory of our walks in the park. A branch, however small and far from maturity, is always attached to the vine, unless some malicious or careless gardener cuts it off. The vine feeds the branch and strengthens it, but it leaves the branch free to go off exploring, seeking a patch of sunlight, shaking off an encounter with a puddle, and growing, growing, growing, but always sheltered by the older branches.
And when the vine is Jesus, it probably also laughs with delight when the three-year old identifies correctly the model of airplane soaring overheard because to learn is also to grow.
Copyright Abbey of St. Walburga 2017