Dry Bones and Fresh Starts

From dry bones to fresh starts - that's how our God works.
From dry bones to fresh starts – that’s how our God works.

Them bones, them bones gonna’ walk around……

Today, the message at church was about (among other things) Ezekiel, the biblical Old Testament prophet. I  know only a few things about Ezekiel – that there is an unleavened bread named after him that is okay to eat if you are on the Daniel Fast; that he saw a wheel  “way up  in the middle of the sky;”  and – courtesy of another song learned as a child  – I know that God asked  him to raise the dry bones of soldiers into an living army.

Dry bones, like the skeletons we keep in our closets. Living with active addiction is like having only dry bones with which to function in life.

Addiction renders our spiritual bones dry as desert sand. Active disease sucks the marrow from us, the very cells that keep life going. It saps our souls of the muscle to get up and move out of that place, our lifeblood drained from veins and vessels. Without the sinew to hold us together, our skin – protective covering for what has wasted away – falls away until.  Our hope gone, there is nothing left of us but dry bones.

This week, having published my first book – a tome of essays addressing my alcoholism and recovery – my bones have been rattled a bit. I long ago decided that if I were to share my experience, strength and hope with others, it is important to be authentic, but sometimes who I authentically am is messy. In publishing the book, I unlocked the closet, swung the door open, and let the bones fall where they may for all to see. If I tidied up my story, I would be in danger of becoming only a bleached-out, “dry” drunk, and not a person in active recovery.

But it’s hard. It’s really difficult because my humanness – my flesh – still just wants to get a bigger closet for my skeletons.

Until this morning, I had been feeling a little embarrassed going public with some of the details of my story; the graphic nature of my pain. And then in church (of all places!) I was  reminded about Ezekiel, because you see – what God asked him to do is not all that different from what God has asked me to do – what he asks each person redeemed by his love to do:  To spread the message that dry bones can rise up in life again.

In Ezekiel’s own words:

“…Dry bones, bleached by the sun.  God said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling!

The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them. He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’

 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.

 Then God said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.’

I am prophesying today as he commands me.  Yes, me. This middle-aged, middle-American, middle-classed woman seemingly of no great consequence….I am prophesying to the breath to those alcoholics and addicts all the world over walking wounded. The hopeless ones.  Because God grabbed me and showed me the bones strewn about, you see. And he says that we are ALL of great consequence.

“I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”

He is raising an army of the lost and broken, the addicted. God, breathe on these slain bodies! Breathe LIFE!

There is a sound – oh, a rustling! Dry bones knocking together, but then a wind from Heaven giving breath to a  huge, living army. An army that goes forth in flesh to prophesy for the others who have only dry bones with which to function.

Now hear the word of the Lord:

“Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says: I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I’ll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live. Then I’ll lead you straight back to your land and you’ll realize that I am God. I’ve said it and I’ll do it. God’s Decree.” – Scriptures from Ezekiel 37 1:-14 (The Message)

Alleluia!  Make it so, God. Make it so.

Upcoming EDGEWISE book launch

Hello, dear readers! It may seem as though I have been on some sort of writing sabbatical, but I can assure you that is not the case. Since the last blog post, I have been working hard to publish my first book, EDGEWISE: Plunging off the Brink of Drink and into the Love of God. If learning is a ‘curve,’ than I am on a ‘figure 8’ adventure these days! I am very much looking forward to the upcoming launch, and will keep you readers advised of the progress. Thank you for your readership, by the way. Best readers in the WORLD!

(In the meantime, here is a sneak peak at the cover…)

EDGEWISE: Plunging off the Brink of Drink and into the Love of God
EDGEWISE: Plunging off the Brink of Drink and into the Love of God

Imperishable: What cancer cannot take

IMG_4172

But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?” – 1 Cor. 15:54-57 (The Message)

I have a dear friend who lives many miles away, whose dear friend is dying from cancer. I’ve never met the woman suffering , but I have implored God to heal her. She is forty-four years old, in the prime of life – and until a few months ago –  expected that life to be a long, full one. My dear friend is brokenhearted. She tells me that her dear one is wasting away, tethered to IV to cords of fluids and nutrition, to buy her a few more days. In short, her earth suit has a very finite warranty, but the essence of who she is will break free of it and know no more pain.

The woman with cancer… she prayed for healing, and believed. Why is she not miraculously whole?

Life, and death. And Life.

Last night, while in fervent prayer for this cancer patient, I had a bit of a vision about the confounding cycle of life and death. God gives us what we need to make the journey, but only to make the journey. And then …. life everlasting.

Have you ever seen a picture of a human embryo floating in its mother’s dark womb? First-conceived babies are alien-esque; plump, pink, funny-looking things, tethered by a cord of fluid and nutrition. They look like little pods, really – and in fact, they are. Little pods of spirit poured under skin and over bone (or what will become bone –  the super neat thing about life in this stage is that the cells have intellect of sorts, they know where they are to go, and what they are to be, to become what the Creator deemed long ago they become.) Humans are transparent, at this stage …you can see through them; and from the moment their earth suits are crafted, they are destined to change the world.

Some say our bodies – our intricately designed, one-of-a-kind pods – are cosmic happenstance. But my faith isn’t big enough to believe that.

I say they give us form and physical function to make a journey. They are suits that enable us how to have an experience – simply put, how to learn to love God and love each other.  Our Creator pours us into them for this assignment, in which every nerve reaction puts forth a ripple, affecting the trajectory of the lives of every other journeyman. So when the essence of who we are breaks away from the pod, we are well-versed in love for the journey that is only beginning.

My friend’s friend is breaking away from her earth suit. Her form of life is transitioning, getting ready for another birth.  She is sallow now – yes, skin and bones. Her pod is worn-out from an insidious sickness. Her cells, which God once orchestrated into perfect harmony, are suffocated by cells that don’t belong there at all. They have lost their intellect.

But her spirit ? It is changing the world. Having set into motion shock-waves of love that will ripple long after her body has expired. She has gained enlightenment, because she was transparent with the world in her love for God – and others – on this crazy journey…  others who could only know love through the vehicle of her life.

She will live, and the cancer will die.

Just as she prayed, believing.

Life and death. And Life. And more life still.