One day a man from a nearby village called out at the monastery gates, and handed the old monk who opened it a magnificent bunch of grapes, saying, “Dear Father, I have brought as a gift the finest grapes my vineyard has produced.”
The monk smiled, “Thank you, I will take them to the Abbot immediately; he’ll be delighted with this offering.” But the villager said, “No, no I brought them for you.”
The old monk didn’t think he deserved such a fine gift. “Oh yes!” insisted the man. “For whenever I come by, you open the gates and welcome me. When I needed help because the crop was destroyed, you shared your meal with me every day. I hope this bunch of grapes will remind you of the sun’s love, the rain’s beauty and the miracle of God, for it is He who made them grow so fine.”
The monk held the bunch grapes. It looked full and luscious. He decided to present it to the Abbot, who had always encouraged him with words of wisdom.
The Abbot was very pleased with the grapes, but as he accepted them, he thought of one of the brothers who had been very unwell. “I’ll give him these grapes; they may bring some joy to his life.”
But the grapes didn’t stay in the sick monk’s room for long. He reflected, “Brother Cook has been feeding me such nourishing meals to help me recover. I’m sure he will enjoy these.” As the cook brought him his meal, he presented him with the grapes. “They’re for you,” said the sick monk. “You work so hard; take a moment to sit and enjoy these.”
Brother Cook was amazed at the beauty of the grapes, then he thought of the newest entrant to the monastery. He decided to gift them to the youngster as he felt he might be a bit lonely without his family, and also so that he might understand that the work of God is in the smallest details of creation.
When the novice received them, his heart was filled with the Glory of the Lord, for he had never seen such beautiful grapes. Just then, he recalled the first time he came to the monastery, and of the simple old monk who had opened the gates and warmly welcomed him; it was that gesture which allowed him to feel at home in this community of people who knew how to value the wonders of life.
And so, he walked to the monk at the gates. “Eat and enjoy them,” he said. “For you spend most of your time alone here, and these grapes will make you very happy.”