Dry Bones

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When the world feels incomprehensible and dark and heavy—and really, hasn’t it felt that way for days and weeks and long, long seasons now?—I sometimes turn to the biblical books of the prophets. The prophets lived in an incomprehensible world, too, and their laments and rants and stubborn hope wrap words around my own emotions when I can’t.

Today, I landed in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, and I read it in a volume from The Saint John’s Bible (2007), which is a modern illuminated manuscript. (Not every page contains illuminations like this, but many do, and they are glorious.) The bottom of these pages shows the devastation that we see all around us. It’s stark, and it’s fearsome, and it’s piled so very high. The top of the pages shows light and life and color and beauty—it’s what we long to see. And the gap between the two, the darkness and the light, the gap is so large, and all the bridges from one to the other look broken.

But look more closely. Hidden among the piles of dry bones are sparks of light, faint glimpses of color. I am reminded once again that there is a God who has been known to breathe impossible life into moments of consuming death. And I pray that he’ll do it again. 

“The hand of the LORD came upon me,

and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD

and set me down in the middle of a valley;

it was full of bones.

He led me all around them;

there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.

He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’

I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.'”

–Ezekiel 37:1-3 (NRSV)