Madeleine L’Engle on Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones

Pause and take a moment for this story from Ezekiel 37 to sink in. Prophesy to the bones. Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy to the breath of God. Those who are dead will be made alive. We know this story or resurrection and redemption so well because one of the most central stories in the Christian faith is about the resurrection of Christ. We also know this story because the Christian faith is about redemption, transformation, and hoping in what can seem impossible–God will make all things new.

Madeleine L’Engle shares the story this way in Ladders of Angels: Stories from the Bible Illustrated by Children Around the World (Find it in our Christian Education cabinet. Our story for this week is on page 97):

Ezekiel.
The desert.
The spirit of the Lord has sett me here in the desert,
burning with heat, with thirst, ; a desert filled
with dry bones, brittle, fleshless.

And a voice out of the desert, “Son of Man, can these bones live?”
And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”
And the voice out of the desert said to me, “prophesy upon these bones and say, ‘ Dry Bones, hear the Word of the Lord. I am now going to make the breath enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and flesh and skin, and give you spirit, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.'”

So I prophesied as I was commanded, and in the silence of the desert there was a noise, and a clattering, and the bones came together, and sinews and flesh came upon them, and skin covered them, and breath came from the four winds, and the dry bones lived and stood up on their feet.

For the Lord of Creation comes to us in the desert. It is the Master of the Universe who breathes his spirit into us, his people. It is he who gives us life, and not we ourselves.

I stand in the silence of the desert and there is thunder in the wind and the dry bones rise in obedience to the Lord of all life.

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