Today is my first day without my oldest son living at home. Yesterday he boarded a plane for New Jersey where he spent the night and awakened to catch an early bus to West Point as a new cadet. My gut was in my throat as I reached up to hug him goodbye at the airport and to say Live your dream!
He left and I ache. Tonight I will open a bottle of Amarone because nothing else will do. Those who’ve had it know why. I can’t shake the image from my mind that this wine represents where I sit in my pool of tears and what will become of me.
The making of Amarone, the most illustrious of Italy’s dry wines made from dried grapes, begins with the careful selection of whole grape bunches which are then dried or raisined. Traditionally the grapes dried out on straw mats or wicker shelving, or perhaps by being strung from rafters. Now however, special drying rooms with temperature and humidity controls accomplish the task by housing slatted cases of grapes. This process is known as appassimento. And it takes time.
Once dried after several months, the grapes are crushed and fermented dry. Throughout, not only is the moisture removed from the grapes in the process, leading to a concentration of sugars and flavors, but also the grape acids are metabolized and the tannins are polymerized or smoothed out. The resulting wine is long aging with intense color, flavor, and tannin. A characteristic Amarone is well-balanced, full-bodied, powerful, rich and concentrated, with notes of dark chocolate, dried fruits, tobacco, coffee, and leather.
My faucet tears, unexpected and haphazard, leave me dehydrated. All the water has flowed out of me. I’m drying out. Shriveling. Strung up.
I read a Psalm today that says:
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
I praise God for what he has promised; yes,
I praise the Lord for what he has promised. (Psalm 56:8,10)
I sit in a pool of tears, life sucked out. But I know this labor-intensive process, this appassimento in my life, will change me for the better. I simply need the grace of extra time. It’s a natural, although difficult, way to bring needed concentration. It will lead to a balanced me and I will find a new intensity and strength in living. Certainly it will allow me to age longer, having undergone it! I know my life will be rich with wonder and a powerful statement to the promises and goodness of God. Nothing else will do. And I will drink it up.