The sermon in Church on Sunday was about Jesus being a grapevine. “It’s not a literal description of Himself,” Canon June said, and went on to explain about how faith works like a grapevine; Jesus is the central tree and his followers are the branches. If any of the ‘branches’ leave, then the branches higher up are more likely to wither away, or lose faith.
“It’s a lot like networking,” my husband said later, as we snatched five minutes to sit in the sunshine with a cup of tea. “Any network is only as good as the people in the chain to either side of you. It’s not always easy to keep the network going, but the benefit is that you make contact with people that you might otherwise have nothing to do with.” He’s had to spend a lot of time recently in business network meetings and was amused by the connection. He’s sure Jesus was no stranger to breakfast meetings, albeit of a slightly different sort!
It doesn’t matter how you describe it, networking (or grapevining) is part of what sustains us. Our families are networks, connecting us across not just our country but continents as well. Our places of work too – how many jobs have been filled thanks to the old adage ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?’ Facebook and Twitter are networks of ‘friends’ (although how much of a friend is debatable sometimes, but don’t get me started!) and often throw up surprises in terms of just who knows everybody else. It can be a very small world. At school, I’m part of what my husband calls the ‘Mummy Network’; a group of Mums who will happily wait with another Mum’s child after school if that Mum is running late. Sometimes it might mean one of small daughter’s friends coming for tea at very short notice, but that’s how the Mummy Network works and school pick-up time is better for it. Sports groups, pub quizzes, even just walking the dog brings you into contact with people you would never normally meet, offering new conversations and a new perspective on the everyday.
One of the Five Ways to Wellbeing (www. http://neweconomics.org/projects/five-ways-well-being) is to connect with the people around you and think of those connections as the cornerstones of life. We all need to make links with other people to help us feel that we are making a contribution to society and most importantly, to keep us well. Some people find the thought of networking rather daunting, but it’s just another name for something as simple as talking to the shopkeeper when you’re buying the morning paper. It’s something most of us do without thinking.
Without contact with other people, our lives become less meaningful and like Jesus’ grapevine, something in us withers and dies. So get out there, make those connections and be reminded how small the world really is!