"Mortal, can these bones live?" I answered, "O Lord God, you know." - Ezekiel 37:3
When God asks Ezekiel if these bones can live, the prophet's answer isn't a resounding yes. It's more like, "Um, I guess . . . ." Staring at that horror, who could be sure, even with God right next to you? A confident "yes" sticks in his throat.
I once visited a vast military cemetery—endless rows of white crosses covering rolling slopes of manicured grass, so tranquil that the only sound was the snapping of flags in the breeze. It was all meant to elicit hushed pride, sorrow mellowed by patriotism. I felt it.
Still, my gorge rose. I was in the valley. And if God had asked me right then whether those bones could live, whether there'd be a time when we wouldn't bury people in such places, or in other places with no markers and nothing lovely to mask the waste, a confident "yes" would've stuck in my throat.
Hope is very hard. The only time it's easy is when you're hoping in the abstract. It's different when you're staring at repulsive particulars. Yet it's precisely there God commands us to hope, and to summon life from the deadest of the dead.
That's what Ezekiel does. He prophesies. We know the rest.
We don't need to be certain of anything. We need to do what God tells us. That's what hope is in the end—a kind of loyalty, an obedient adhering to the One who gives all life its breath.
O Lord, you know. Because you tell me to speak to bones, I will.
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.