Journey Toward Hope
Holy Breath of Life
Fifth Sunday of Lent: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Within Ezekiel 37:1-14 lies a recipe we may follow to create a tonic for mass resurrection. Standing with God and Mortal, overlooking the valley of dry bones, I see the four ingredients of God, Mortal, Bones, and the Four Winds combining with the themes of Intention, Shaping, and Infusion to concoct a tonic for new life.
Let’s clarify breath, spirit, and the 4 winds. In this passage the Hebrew word ruach is translated as breath in some places, spirit in others. What is important is not etymology, but the understanding that breath and spirit are inseparable in the ancient mind. To bridge the Western ideology of separation and the Eastern ideology of integration, I use the term Holy Breath. By the end of the vision, ruach has morphed into the 4 winds of the earth. In the Old and New Testament, the 4 winds appear to be a special team of ruach—called upon whenever massive impact is required in the human condition. (See Daniel 7:1-12, Zechariah 6:5, and Matthew 24:31).
As is made clear in the UCC’s recent report entitled, “Breath to the People”: Sacred Air and Toxic Pollution, a focus on the resurrecting power of the Holy Breath is needed as much as ever. We no longer see the air as the breath of God. We have taken this divine gift for granted and let it become poisoned in ways that threaten the health and wellbeing of children. Yet, hope is to be found in the new life found in this scripture.
1. The Intention
“God speaks to Mortal”.4-6
God gives Mortal a clear vision of how to turn mass graves into living multitudes. The Holy Breath applied to bones causes them to grow sinews, flesh, and skin. This can also be interpreted as layers of social structures woven together for a new fabric. The God factor, however, cannot be divorced from Mortal’s free will usage of it. When we step into our birthright as co-creators, God amplifies and multiplies what we agree to pursue.
2. The Shaping
“Mortal Prophesies to Bones” 7-9.
Note that this prophecy is not a recap of destruction. Dismay is the voice of disconnection, while resurrection occurs when lamenting stops. This is not a call for morality. Likewise, today’s environmental crisis is not a moral dilemma but a spiritual crisis of identity. By disconnecting from Creation, we have forgotten what it means to be human. In destroying our life support system, we have entered into self-mutilation. Just like a person who cuts themselves, we are displaying deep self-loathing and disconnection from God. We are becoming the dry bones awaiting retrofitting from God.
Transformation occurs as Mortal speaks. A blending process of human speech and spiritual action forms the body. Individual bones are redeemed from isolation and rejoined with all of the interdependent layers necessary for success. It reminds us that we have power to speak order to chaos, connect estranged communities, develop regenerative economies and form justice systems that restore life.
3. The Infusion
“God, Mortal, Holy Breath
Mortal commands the Holy Breath to come from the 4 winds to infuse the communities God has designed. Regardless of how well the communities are designed, they don’t function until infused by a special Holy Breath from the 4 Winds—a global force that follows God’s design with scientific precision for global impact. God’s design is most easily discernible within Nature. When it comes to responding to the environmental crisis, we can shift from human-centered solutions to nature-centered solutions such as reforestation and regenerative agriculture. When we align with Nature’s self-regulating formulas, there is an exponential impact.
Earth, come forth!
Rev. Dele is the author of Breath of Life: Growing Closer to God & Growing a Securing Community by Loving Creation. She can be found online, on Twitter, and contacted via email.