Life gets full. For the past seven years of my life I have nursed three children into the night, rocked a colicky baby for hours on end, and changed more diapers than I care to discuss. A tough time, yes. But essential. It's a time of sowing, of planting seeds of beauty and hope; and planting is hard work.
But that's what motherhood is. One day it can feel like a run through wildflowers, the next, a dragging through the desert. I have felt, at times, dry and barren. The years of sleepless nights, the rigor of the next morning, and the next, and the next, have stripped the flesh off my bones.
At some point, we all fill it. Right? Days can pass in monotony. Anxiety cripples joints until they cry out for relief. Life can suck us dry through exhaustion, mistrust, fear, bitterness, and what is left? An arid desert of bones.
During this season of life, it's easy for me to forget who I am, Whose I am; that nearly 40 years ago, I was woven together in my mother's womb, flesh put upon these bones, knit together in the most intimate of places, and the breath of God breathed life into me. The breath of God. Life.
But these last few months, I've felt a shift in the wind. I can feel these ole bones of mine quaking; a stirring underneath, like something's underfoot.
Signs of Life
I decided to walk to Boar's Hill. It's one of the highest points in Oxford, where you can see the spires shine from a distance. I needed to find some time alone; to remember who I am; to feel the wind whip through the valley; to see the clouds roll across the sky.
The wind is so strong I almost turn around and head home because I cannot stand beneath its force. But then I hear the Lord's words to Ezekiel come to me through my earphones:
“Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’"
You will come to life. His breath is life.
The Hebrew word for breath, ruach, can also mean wind or spirit. It carries the idea of bringing signs of life. His breath is like the wind. Strong, dreadful, creating life. What once was dead, can live.
The wind was so strong up on Boar's Hill, I could feel the terror of it's power. But as powerful as the wind was, its fury cannot compete with the breath of God.
"So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them."
"Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet." (Ezekiel 37)
As I stood there, I could feel the flesh of freedom, the skin of serenity, the tendons of truth wrapping around me. His breath has come to breathe life into me.
Awake, my soul. Hear the song being sung across the wind.
He really does delight in me.
He wants to give life to my bones.
The Wonder of Life
In his brilliant book Works of Love, Kierkegaard addresses the wonder of life: "Individuality is not mine but is God's gift by which he gives me being and gives being to all, gives being to everything. It is simply the inexhaustible swell of goodnesss in the goodness of God that he, the Almighty, nevertheless gives in such a way that the receiver obtains individuality, that He who created out of nothing nevertheless creates individuality."
He creates out of nothing. The barest of bones, the driest of deserts, the barrenest of wombs, can be a birthplace for his life. And I can hear His voice whispering in my ear, "I have come to give you life. I have come to give you LIFE."
God delights in wrapping dry bones with flesh, your flesh. The same flesh that dressed you while still in your mother's womb. The raw materials that framed your existence, creating an individual, you, who is fearfully and wonderfully made. He comes to bring life.
My spirit awakens to the laughter of my children. Dreams resurrect in my heart. The wind sings the splintersong across Boars Hill.
Can these bones live? Yes!
"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" writes the prophet Jeremiah.
The God of all flesh conquered death and laid it in it's grave. Because Christ was raised to life, I will rise. Nothing escapes the power of his breath, the wind rattling some bones.The God of all flesh, comes to clothe you with flesh. To give life to your bones, your dreams, your individuality.
I can hear a rattling ... it sounds a lot like the wind through the trees.