I am committing to engaging Rachel Hackenberg's "Writing to God- 40 days of Praying with my Pen" as a part of my Lenten discipline. Today's prompt comes from the words of Ezekiel 37:1-3
"The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
The questions ask for one to consider where are the "dry bones" in our lives that need to have life and breath of God infused in them (my words as a paraphrase) and then to write to God for encouragement in these areas.
It's been challenging to write this day- I had things in mind that seemed really important, but while I was imagining what I would say, God, you sent me to the hospital to work yesterday where you placed me in the valley with a 13 year old whose path was multiple broken bones, a wrist, a rib, maybe more. He was hit riding his bike to school and his family wondered if the bleeding inside his skull was really bigger than it seemed. Where they let the chopper take him to a pediatric unit elsewhere.
Then you sent me to visit with a elderly woman whose latest fall broke a hip and who wondered whether she could continue to live alone or whether this is one more step into a sadness she wants to avoid. Where just as the brittleness was ending, you called me to another valley, but not before I could offer a glimmer of your healing
But then you sent me to a family whose father/fiance/uncle/brother died of a sudden cardiac arrest. Where his son had tried in vain to revive him, where the cruel snap of the shattering words "there was nothing more we could do" came in a valley where there were no broken bones but plenty of broken hearts and a profound wailing and rending that seemed to have no ceasing.
What felt like "dry bones" were the words I could give- words that if they were platitudes would simply shatter and fall to the floor. Words that had they been spoken would have been as lifeless as any dry bones. As life on this earth was done and loved ones contemplated instead, ashes.
But in the midst of those places you gave me living bones in arms that could hug, fingers that could dial a phone, hands that could hold another's, and could make the sign of the cross to proclaim that in the midst of all our dry bones, you offer life, of the everlasting kind.
You made my ribcage expand to give breath that could pray prayers even when we were numb, that could lift up what was hope- he is talking, your therapy was better today, God is in each person who is holding you and grieving with you. Ways we could acknowledge the irony of water which brings life is also water in tears at a death. And when a despondent woman's guttural proclamation was that the man she loved had saved her from herself, and she could not go on, she was tearfully and wordlessly embraced by those who will over time remind her that God used him and them to proclaim the real saving agent.
How will we go on when all around us all we see are dry bones? Only you know, Lord. But I thank you that you are willing to show what you know in all of the bones in the hands and the feet of those who come, who hold, who bless, who tend and the ribcages that power the breath of others who pray, who sigh, who encourage and support. Help us to open our eyes to how you have already breathed life to sustain us when we are not sure, and then empower us to be the same in other lands of dry bones where others cry out. Help us to hear, and when we can, to share the story of the God who really can make all of those dry bones live.