Bone-Dry – by Margaret Evans
Spirited Reflection – Sunday, April 6, 2014
Margaret Evans is a 3rd year Master of Divinity student at the Vancouver School of Theology. She is passionate about social justice issues particularly around women and HIV/AIDS. She is new to KAIROS and is looking forward to engaging on a deeper level with this wonderful organization.
The story of Ezekiel is such a strange passage to many of us. He’s become somewhat of the ‘butt of the joke,’ so-to-speak. Dry bones coming to life sounds like something out a zombie movie, meant to portray destitution and fear. Bone-dry-lifeless objects they were. Now, they had come to life.
I recently attended a talk on hospitality within the Christian context. The facilitator was a staff member for a Vancouver-based downtown eastside ministry which focused on fostering relationships between people. The downtown east side of Vancouver is one of the poorest regions in our country, where it is well known as the place where homelessness, prostitution and drugs are present. Towards the end of the talk, someone asked what we might do in situations when we are asked for money from a homeless person. After some small group discussions we returned to the larger circle where some ideas were offered.
With Ezekiel’s breath, God instructed him to offer life to these bones that lay in disarray around their feet. God told him to speak to them, as though they were people and they would be given the breath from God to come alive. God saw life where our eyes saw death. God saw creation, where our eyes saw desolation.
God’s ability to see life in the presence of what humanity sees as death is a testament to God’s grace. God is not limited to what humanity sees and yet, God has joined God’s self with humanity. God joined himself to Ezekiel so that life could be breathed into dry bones. Surely God was in no need of Ezekiel to do this, and yet he brought him into God’s life-giving spirit. God wanted Ezekiel to see life through physical death.
As the church journeys through the season of Lent, I imagine this season of waiting to be similar to God’s joining with Ezekiel. God does not need us to bring new life, but God wants us to see. God wants to show us the beautiful and mystery of the divine as it breathes new life into desolation around us.
It is important for me to recognize my own power and privilege, as I am able to live my life without much interaction with death on a daily basis. I have enough to eat and I do not have to wait for shelter each night, yet death is the reality of many throughout the world. I am thankful that the body of Christ extends life to death, while at the same time calling me to see new life in dry bones.
The power of the resurrection disables the thinking that power and privilege equal life and thus thrusts the church into a new way of being. During the discussion on how to treat a person who asks you for money, people offered suggestions to offer the gift of humanity, the gift of life. ‘Perhaps we could ask them their name,’ said one. ‘Or maybe we could sit and chat with them awhile,’ said another.
This is no one-size-fits-all way to interact with our sisters and brothers, yet God draws us into God’s breath to give life when our eyes are covered by our humanity. Money does not dictate life in the way of God. Life is breathed when words are exchanged. Like the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and many other healing and justice movements, the power of life is within the voices of those who speak, offering new life to those who hear. When we hear the breath of God, we are able to see the dry bones come to life.
I am new to the KAIROS team and I will be joining the Dignity and Rights Circle this spring. In light of God’s breath in Ezekiel’s words of new life, I look forward to being opened to the Spirit’s breath on me where I might not see. I look forward to being challenged to change in this time of waiting and to come alive in ways I did not know were possible.