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The Valley of Dry Bones Part IV

This is the forth and final post of our Valley of Dry Bones series.  Do not forget to take a look at Part IPart II, and Part III.  If you are finding this series valuable, we would love if you would share it with your community!

Of course, as you already know, this narrative arc of life, death and resurrection repeats itself multiple times over the course of our lives. We “die” multiple times before we die and we are “resurrected” multiple times before we are resurrected. According to the pattern, we experience wonder, suffering comes and, strangely, renewal occurs; we experience wonder, suffering comes and, strangely, renewal occurs…

Is this fatalistic? I don’t think so. Quite the opposite, in fact. The grand narrative after all operates more like a corkscrew than a repeating cycle. Here I will slightly contradict what I said earlier, but bear with me! While the three-point pattern of wonder, suffering and renewal holds – and while the end is also where we begin – we do not actually return to exactly the same starting point. Instead we carry with us the wisdom of the ground we have just covered. We emerge from each so-called “lap around the track” transformed. We are not the same as when we began. It is why the journey is more like a corkscrew or a spiral than a literal cycle. The key to the riddle of life is that somehow, in some mysterious way, the pattern propels us forward, into more joy, more humility, more maturity and ultimately into more capacity to become the prophets who actualize the prophecy, whose hands extend to the people languishing in their valleys of dry bones.

As we travel along this pattern, we come to realize deep in our being that God’s breath and our own breath are indeed the same breath. The text already indicates this, but on our side of eternity it takes a long time for us to genuinely believe this to be true. The implication is this: Our consolation – our resurrection is never just our own. The resurrection of those in the valley of dry bones is also never only their own. If the breath is the same breath and if creation is the body of God, then every resurrection is at some level also God’s resurrection. Further, given that every one of us is drawing from the same breath, every resurrection of another person is at some level also our own resurrection. Every moment of someone else’s suffering is also God’s suffering and our own suffering just as every moment of wonder is also God’s wonder and our wonder.
We are never alone. We are never alone.

Let us return for a moment to the question we posed earlier but did not answer: What about those for whom the valley of dry bones is the valley from which they will never arise? There is no easy answer to this question. On this side of eternity and at an individual level it may indeed appear to be the case that death is the final iteration of the corkscrew pattern of life.

Here we do well to remember the key to the riddle. The spiral of life has always included multiple occasions of suffering each of which is a type of death before our final death. But, I would offer, if the pattern holds, then the spiral continues well beyond our final physical death. Further, if our breath is the same breath as the person next to us, our resurrection may be realized in someone other than ourselves. If our breath is the same as God’s, our resurrection may be realized beyond the pale of this life. If our breath is the same as all of creation, our resurrection may be realized in ways we can hardly imagine. In the words of the great hymn: Nothing is lost on the breath of God. Nothing is lost forever.

And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord. (Ekekiel 37: 13-14)

I will put my spirit within you and you shall live.
I will put my spirit within you and you shall live.
AMEN.

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Betty Pries has more than 20 years of experience coaching, mediating, training and consulting in the areas of conflict resolution and change.   Betty's work with churches and church organizations is guided by her desire to enhance their spiritual and organizational health, and strengthen the capacities of leadership to discern a way forward.

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