Daily Reflection
August 25th, 2000
Cathy Weiss Pedersen
Campus Ministry
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Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalms 107:2-9
Matthew 22:34-40

“See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.” (Ez. 37: 11)

Last week I attended the funeral of a young man who died in a tragic accident.  The man’s wife and children, as well as his mother, brothers and sisters, extended family and friends were devastated by this sudden death in their lives.  During the eulogies and sharing of memories by family and friends at the wake service it was evident that Tom’s death left a huge void in everyone’s life that knew him. 

As I reflected on Ezekiel’s view of the plain of dry bones, I was reminded of the desolation and loss that Tom’s family and friends experienced.  It was very much like the pain and emptiness my family felt last year when we suddenly lost my brother to suicide. 

Anyone who has lost a dear family member or friend knows the sense of being lost, a sense of numbness, (almost a void of feeling) during the days of the wake and funeral…a sense of, “…no spirit in them.” (Ez. 37: 8)  It is as if “…our bones are dried up, our hope is lost and we are cut off.” (Ez. 37:11) 

But then gradually through the rituals of the wake service and funeral, with family and friends gathered together, a spirit begins to breathe life once again into the sadness of those gathered. 

The memories of the one who has died are shared through laughter as well as lots of tears among those who have been touched…who have been loved by the one who has died.  “…And it is as if our graves of despair are opened up and we can rise up…” (Ez.37:13)
to experience our Spirit and the spirit of the one whom has died.

God promises Ezekiel “…to put my spirit in you that you will live…and you shall know that I am your God.” (Ez. 37:14)

The temptation during despair, is to doubt the possibility of moving from the void of ‘no spirit within’ to a sense of opening to the spirit of life.  How can God’s spirit make us alive? 

I believe that it is rooted in our relationships…how we connect, how we love and allow ourselves to be loved by others, including our family, our friends, and our God.  Just as Ezekiel had to trust in his relationship with his God in order to prophesy that the dry bones would return to life and have spirit in them (because God promised this), so too, trust is basic to being able to open to God’s spirit enlivening us.  This is basically what happens in human relationships as well. 

In my depths of despair and sense of being cut off from reality at the time of my brother’s death, the thing that helped me to begin to feel again…to be alive, was to allow myself to open to being in need, to be loved, supported, cared for by others even as I tried to do this for the rest of my family and for my brother’s friends.  This is not an instantaneous journey, an overnight transformation.  It can take weeks, months, even years…but as long as the trust in the love of others and of my God is present, my spirit does come alive.

I believe that this is what Matthew’s gospel reminds us:  “These are the two great commandments: To love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind; and to love our neighbor as ourselves.”  (And I humbly add, “…to be open to God’s love for me, in and through the love that my neighbors, friends and family share with me.”)


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