Can These Dry Bones Live ?

This post has my own reflection and others based on the First reading from Ezekiel  for this fifth and last Sunday in Lent.

Related article here 
and a fine heart warming reflection here called Medicine for Dry Bones .

This post is a wonderful reflection on Ezekiel based on the art of Stanley Spencer. 
(The comments on this post are insightful too.)

My Reflections on the Gospel parable for this Sunday on the raising of Lazarus are here.


This year has left many parts of the world stranded in  living nightmares of valleys of dry bones. 

Confronted with scenes of devastation and death it is no surprise that we can be left with little sense of possibility.

'Can these bones live?' would be a totally reasonable response to the idea that there lies the remotest chance of a new vision of the future in a vast endless desert strewn with piles of inert lifeless bones.

From a purely human point of view, the question the Lord asked Ezekiel was a tad unfair and  Ezekiel’s answer betrays that: “Lord, you alone know.”

Some may have experienced a little of the refreshing breath of the Holy Spirit in terms of International Aid,  United Nations peace keeping or the hope to establish of a government that is less corrupt and more just.

We can also recognise our own lives in that valley of death, or any parts that are dry  and lifeless.

Sunday's first reading on the dry bones also asks us to accept the vision that God will breath one more time in to us individually and as a church, the breath of life. 

To cite Robert Capon at some length:
"The operative fact is that a start can only occur after a stop.  As Isaiah reminded Israel, the church’s strength is to stand still:  all the power, all the resources, and all the hope of the defunctly marginal lie hidden in the terrifying reality of their death.  Only out of that can they live.........
The only thing they need to guard against is the temptation to stop being dead, the longing to be alive and kicking again.  Alive and kicking may be nice, but it’s not astonishing.  Dead and kicking, though… that’s astonishing.  That, in fact, is resurrection – and it’s the only thing that can bring out the best in the church."[7]

Eugene Peterson says,
"Perhaps faith is the letting go of what we know and see and hear and the living of life that comes from knowing, seeing and hearing and instead living a life that is oriented around what God sees, hears, and knows. 
What we see, is, a valley of dry bones but what God sees is the whole house of Israel (us). But until we have the sort of eyes that see what God sees, the whole house of Israel, our efforts, our faith—indeed, our very lives–will be full of frustration and futility.
We live by faith, not sight. 

But it’s that kind of faith; God’s kind of faith.

So Ezekiel in the end did prophesy to a valley full of dry bones.

And there was a noise, a rattling sound........."

Gungor Dry Bones Live Acoustic Version

and another great song by Gungor...... You Make Beautiful Things.

The resulting conclusion to Ezekiel's vision is that the whole cemetery is filled with living beings and this powerful imagery is an expression of what can happen when the Spirit of God comes sweeping through a devastated earth.

For Christians the belief that "with God all things are possible" is not just a stubborn optimism that stoicly faces situations  beyond human endeavour to repair; it is based on the reality of the first Easter morning when Jesus rose from the tomb.

 What God did on that day is continually experienced in our lives in many ways, albeit less dramatically. For most of the time we don't roll away the whole stone ; we might push it just a little and let a tiny crack of light in but as the song "Anthem" below  says, "forget your perfect offering", the smallest opening is enough for God to enter and the cracked bell still rings, even if slightly off key.

With the fact of the empty tomb. God gave us something beyond death and life in the the tremendous gift of the eucharist.  This renewal in all its fullness is a possibility for all the people of the world that every human being can experience:  
eternal life, hope and a triumph over death."


The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

The Dry Bones

by Paul Hoover 

My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself

And into the heavens, as on a bright day after rain,

there came the shapes of four creatures,

and they each had the likeness of a man,

and each man had four wings outstretched

and each wing had four eyes emblazoned, wide open,

given to weeping at the worlds they contained:

an eye-world of light, of fire and air,

of water and its mirror, heart and its first fear;

and in each world were four names,

entangled in its forest of letters,

whereupon I could read: Dow Jones, Cargill,

Chevron, and DeKalb of the frozen seed,

bearing but once and giving up its need;

and under each name were discovered four meanings,

literal, figurative, rational, dim,

and under each meaning a counter-meaning,

with its likeness of Freud, Marx, Hegel, and Lacan;

and the four figures passed as one overhead,

their wingtips linked like molten silver joined.

For I, Ezekiel, had been given to eat

the very substance of God,

and my eyes were open and my mouth spake,

as spring opens winter and winter closes fall;

and the earth turned rightly, to my senses sweet.

Son of man, they called me, a proverb and a sign.

Say: I am a sign of the city, the cauldron
where men burn down to desire.

Say: I am the proverb of nothing and one,

boiling over the fire, rising out of belief

and falling, like a tyrant, out of derision alone.

And lo, a likeness, as of the appearance of fire,

the error of presence, of nothing as one,

and lo, another likeness, the appearance of water,

the error of absence, of something as none;

for water surrounds all shapes that enter

but has no shape of its own,

and fire is the shape of ruin alone.

For the princes of the sea

shall cast their garments upon the land’s end:

their scholar’s robes, sharkskin suits,

and alligator shoes, their Nikes,

Reeboks, and Chuvashian mittens

knitted by the children of shepherds,

by tinsmiths and ladies’ men,

in the dark at the back of the store;

for the princes of fire consume what they love,

with the reckless ambition of gods.

Yea, as I spake to dry bones that lay upon the earth,

they danced into being, and chattered, one and one,

down the hallways of my desert, the thresholds of my river.

For the Lord builds ruined palaces and plants desolation,

he receives what is absent; possesses all that is gone.

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1 comment:

Wordinthehand said...

There is just so much in your posts that it is difficult to comment. Thank you for finding so many references and links to each and every day - you are a mine of information.
blessings m+