De reflects on how the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is alive and active within us, gives us a new lens through which to understand old situations.
The hand of the LORD came upon me,
and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD
and set me in the center of the plain,
which was now filled with bones.
He made me walk among the bones in every direction
so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain.
How dry they were!
He asked me:
Son of man, can these bones come to life?
I answered, “Lord GOD, you alone know that.”
Then he said to me:
Prophesy over these bones, and say to them:
Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones:
See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.
I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you,
cover you with skin, and put spirit in you
so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD.
I, Ezekiel, prophesied as I had been told,
and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise;
it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone.
I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them,
and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them.
Then the LORD said to me:
Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man,
and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD:
From the four winds come, O spirit,
and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.
I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them;
they came alive and stood upright, a vast army.
Then he said to me:
Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.
They have been saying,
“Our bones are dried up,
our hope is lost, and we are cut off.”
Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.
I sat across from my spiritual director as he read this Scripture passage from Ezekiel to me. I had sat with him many many times in the past three years but something was very different this March morning. My typical posture in spiritual direction had been slumped over, head in hands, sobbing. Today, I was weeping but these tears were an outpouring of a swelling of gratitude and love that was too great for my heart to contain. I could barely keep myself sitting still and I felt no need to hide my face. What had affected this transformation, this flood of joy?
Jesus had opened my grave, His hand had been upon me, and He had breathed His Spirit into my dry bones… I was truly Alive!
For nearly twenty years I had suffered from Chronic Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, depression, anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The ten muscles at the core of my body were clenched in fear causing pain that was constant and debilitating. But the worst part of this pain was that in the preceding three years it had daily triggered flashbacks and nightmares of the trauma that had caused it. My body, my mind, and my soul were stuck in my painful past. This is a particular evil of sexual trauma – I was buried and barely breathing in the inescapable grave of my own body.
And then, on the evening of Saint Valentine’s Day, Jesus opened my grave, touched my dry bones, spoke words of love, and raised my mind, body, and soul to new life.
As I laid in bed attempting to listen to a Catholic guided visualization and progressive muscle relaxation recording I cried out to Jesus, “I just can’t bear this another day, Jesus. I cannot keep imagining You touching me! Please, Lord, please heal me!” The words had not even left my lips when He came and He touched me.
His touch is gentle and warm and His Light is both brilliant beyond imagining and yet so soft. And His voice is like a sweet lovesong. For the first time in years, every muscle in my body grew warm and heavy and the clenching and tightness melted away. I drifted to sleep in His arms and there I slept peacefully until morning.
When I awakened to the sun shining in through my window, I was immediately overwhelmed with gratitude for a restful night of sleep. I prayed, “O Jesus, thank You! Thank You for the peaceful sleep. I can go on. I will be okay with the pain.” I truly believed that His miracle for me was one night’s rest with no nightmares or pain waking me!
Once I was out of bed and getting busy with the school day routine, I quickly became aware that something was “wrong.” Where was my pain? I had no pain! Each moment, was filled with gratitude and cautious hope. What if the pain came back in the next moment, or hour, or day? What if I was only imagining that I didn’t feel any pain?
A day, a week, a month passed by and not only was the physical pain gone but the emotional and psychological pain was gone. I no longer had flashbacks or panic attacks, no more nightmares, and no more depressive symptoms. With one touch, Jesus, my Lord and my God, had healed and restored ME… all of me… mind, body, and soul.
On that March morning, in Father’s office, the resurrection power of our Lord was evident in the brightness of my eyes, in my contagious smile, in the ease of my walk, and in the straightness of my back. After listening quietly to my story, Father jumped out of his chair, grabbed his Bible, and turned to Ezekiel 37. As he read aloud to me, I wept and a prayer sprang up within me, which I share below.
I believe we are all called to speak Life and Hope in this world full of dry bones and souls barely breathing in graves dug by abuse, trauma, sin, and despair. Will you pray with me for the hand of Jesus to be upon you and for the breath of His Spirit to burn within you? Together, let us rise up into a vast army and the air will resound with the thunder-like rattling of dry bones coming to life!
I was dry bones, Lord.
I was… skin and bones… nearly dead.
But You have made flesh grow on me,
covered me with new skin,
and breathed life… Your Life and Spirit… into my bones….
into my heart, my soul, my mind.
I have come to life!
You have opened my grave and risen me to life…
life with You… Life in Your Love…
and I know You are God…
my Lord and my God….
And I will not be silent any longer…
Your Spirit in me longs and
burns to be known,
leaping within me….
urging and inspiring me…
too powerful for me to contain
and keep hidden.
Oh Lord, may my Spirit filled bones dance for You
and help You to raise up those
who still lie in their graves!
May I speak Your words of
Life and Hope to them!
May I be part of Your vast army
of dry bones come alive!
Copyright 2019, Laura Ercolino