Compassion: bringing life to dry bones
Course – Week 5 – Compassion
I love many of the Old Testament stories. They’re often so expressive, and full of feeling. One of the more well-known ones is the ‘The Valley of Dry Bones’. This great vision from Ezekiel 37 (v1-14) could be read two ways – Is it a the story of bit of a horror story or is it a positive story still being played out today? Read it again and see what you think…
It depicts a place of utter desolation – a total dead end – but it is reinvigorated with renewal and hope. I think true compassion comes with both these actions – renewal and hope. This is because action to overcome injustices and pain and suffering, always has to come from the heart – or more literally “to be moved as to one’s bowels!”. (The gut area was seen as the seat of emotions in parts of the ancient world.)
We all have stories we know of family conflicts that won’t move to healing, lonely loveless relationships, depression, bankruptcy, etc, etc. The only powerful force that endures in this story is the “breath of God” which for me is compassion in action through you and I living our faith and calling. We can be – and indeed, we ought to be – that “breath of God” just where we are. Against all the odds, and the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, faith, hope and love can bring new life into being.
Unlike the New Testament, the Old Testament doesn’t say much about a resurrection, but Ezekiel catches that vision in this story. If God can make the dry bones of Ezekiel’s vision rattle back together and return to life, God can quicken us as well. God will create new life out of the remnants of the old. God will put the spirit within us and we shall live – and help others to live. That’s our bright ray of hope!
In separateness lies the world’s greatest misery; in compassion lies the world’s true strength. (Buddha)