Between Midnight and Dawn: When Breath Enters

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Then he said to me, “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.’”

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.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Ezekiel 7: 1-11,14

 

“Everything is made to perish; the wonder of anything at all is that it has not already done so. No, he thought. The wonder of anything is that it was made in the first place. What persists beyond this cataclysm of making and unmaking?”
~Paul Harding

 

What persists indeed?  There are times when all appears to perish, especially in wind storms and tsunamis, wild fires and flooding. The obituary pages predominate in the paper, bringing home the local stories in the midst of an overload of bad news, shootings, genocide and suicide bombings.

All appears to be perish with no relief or hope.

But it is the waning light and short days coloring my view like smoke haze in the sky painting a sunset blood red.  Darkness is temporary and inevitably helpless; darkness can never overcome the light of all things made.

Life persists in the midst of perishing because of the cataclysm of a loving and bleeding God dying as sacrifice, breathing His Spirit into us so that we may live.

Nothing, nothing can ever be the same.

 

God goes where God has never gone before.”
~ Kathleen Mulhern in Dry Bones

 

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Divine Glee

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What is this unfolding, this slow-
going unraveling of gift held
in hands open
to the wonder and enchantment of it all?

What is this growing, this rare
showing, like blossoming
of purple spotted forests
by roadsides grown weary with winter months?

Seasons affected, routinely disordered
by playful disturbance of divine glee
weaving through limbs with
sharpened shards of mirrored light,
cutting dark spaces, interlacing creation,
commanding life with whimsical delight.

What is this breaking, this hopeful
re-making, shifting stones, addressing dry bones,
dizzying me with blessings,
intercepting my grieving
and raising the dead all around me?~Enuma Okoro “Morning Reflections”

 

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Slumber Interrupted

herman
my great great grandfather

an updated poem from Memorial Day 2010

Blazing sun bakes a lichen crust
atop a stone so feverish
it is hearth without fire,
reaching down deep
into soil holding a box
that knows no warmth.

Autumn windstorms rage,
lightning crack and thunder clap,
trembling the filled-hole grounds
as dying leaves spin and swirl
through arced cascade among tidy rows
till settled and spent.

Then crisp hoarfrost clings
in glittering crystalline coverlet
gracefully fallen from graying sky,
soft cotton batting fluffs
to pillow gentle slumber
uninterrupted.

When vernal raindrops quench
the thirst of dry bones
suspended between
welkin expanse
and earth’s darkest pit,

these silent stones will shout out~

still no more, reticent no longer,
waking to resonant reveille,
ready to blossom forth
in the fullness of time
and everlasting promise.

anna
my great grandmother

Honing and Tending

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

Creation is the arena in and through which God wishes to reveal himself.
In creating, in preserving, in pursuing; in hallowing, in participating, in wooing—
the Father, the Son, and the Spirit have made all creation,
and all its creatures, great and small, their delight.

We recognize that, being made in his image, we are appointed as his stewards.
This does not give us carte blanche with God’s world.
We are not given creation to plunder,
but to hone and tend in such ways that every little part of it gives glory to God.
~Kathleen Mulhern in Dry Bones

photo by Josh Scholten

Barbarous in Beauty

Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks rise
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour
Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, willful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

 I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;
And, eyes, heart, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

And the azurous hung hills are his world wielding shoulder
Majestic as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet! –
These things, these things were here and but the beholder
Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins “Hurrahing in Harvest”

Reading Hopkins invokes God’s intentional accessibility “stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet” in our daily lives, if we simply open our eyes to see and ears to hear.  The details Hopkins captures in marvelous word pictures, painting with sound and syllable, pull us in.  The “heart rears wings” as we are lifted up to see the Lord manifest in Creation.  We can’t help but be harvested to live obediently as we “glean our Savior” through raised heart and eyes to the glory in the heavens.

As Kathleen Mulhern in her blog “Dry Bones” says in her analysis of “a Christ sighting”:
“There is no point in seeing without responding; there is no way to respond without seeing. Christian life and practice require both faith (the sight of the heart) and works (the lurch of the heart toward him in obedience).”

The gleaning of our Savior is particularly manifest in the sacrament of communion, the earthly meal Jesus invites us to partake of His harvest.  In the bread and wine,  “a barbarous beauty” representing his body and blood,  He lifts us up to taste the glories of heaven.

Our heart “hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him” in response.

What else,  at summer’s end,  can we do?

We walk in faith, raised up, glorious.

Sheaves of Wheat in a Field –Vincent Van Gogh

Making and Unmaking

photo by Josh Scholten

“Everything is made to perish; the wonder of anything at all is that it has not already done so. No, he thought. The wonder of anything is that it was made in the first place. What persists beyond this cataclysm of making and unmaking?”
~Paul Harding

What persists indeed?  There are times when all appears to be perishing, especially in the dying time of year when the world is drying up, blowing away like the dust storms in the parched midwest which soil the air like so much smoke.  The obituary pages predominate in the paper, accompanying an overload of bad news, mass shootings and suicide bombings.  All appears to be perishing with no relief or hope.

But it is waning light and shortening days coloring my view like haze in the sky painting a sunset blood red.  Darkness is temporary and inevitably helpless; it can never overcome the light of all things made.

Life persists in the midst of perishing because of the cataclysm of a loving and bleeding God dying as sacrifice.  Nothing, nothing can ever be the same.

God goes where God has never gone before.”
~ Kathleen Mulhern in Dry Bones

photo by Nate Gibson

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
~John 1: 3-5