Ezekiel 37:11 They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’
Walter Brueggemann, the great Old Testament scholar, has written that the way things appear is precarious so we dare not absolutize the present.
Last night at Brunswick Street United we read the text from Ezekiel 37 that describes how the prophet felt the call to breathe the Spirit into the people of Israel who had lost hope living as exiles in a foreign land (Babylon). That breath of life was such that hope was restored and the people felt a renewed connection to the Spirit.
Then our circle of fifteen disciples shared where and how hope has been restored in our lives. I was careful to add that hope is not like a Walt Disney movie, there is not one arc of hopeless to hope and we live happily ever after. Life is such that hopeless and hope-filled moments come and go in waves and are triggered by various events in our lives. That comment seemed to reassure folks that it was OK to talk about a transformation of hope that did not hold indefinitely, that this was not in any way undercutting the effectiveness of that hope-filled experience.
There were many, many instances of hope that sprang from Creation, where the Creator had posited in Creation certain qualities that nourished and nurtured us into new life. Just the transition itself from one season to the next is such that we know in our bones there is a change coming, there is reason to believe that new life in on its way. But there is more to it, there is in nature a healing quality that we western technologically trained persons often forget at our peril.
On the drive home I thought about how I have found hope in my life when things have seemed bleak. The two factors that have manifested themselves into hope have usually been some combination of action and imagination. There is a kind of momentum that can carry you out of despair if you can just “keep it going”. There are days when my spirit is low and I don’t want to carry on with the tasks but I almost force myself to keep “keeping on” and slowly but surely new energy comes, a feeling that I am making a difference. There is a sense that “doing good” is a form of therapy that keeps us “in the game” and at some point in the midst of despair a new awareness dawns that we are engaged and we are part of something larger than ourselves.
The other manner that hope arrives to me is imagination, when I am able to conceive of a place and time when what I am hoping for exists, becomes real. Hope needs to have a possible landing pad, a place where the dream becomes real. If we can imagine a solution then this possibility begins to take shape and the chances of something new happening increases dramatically.
I give thanks for the gift of “doing well” and imagination. They breathe life into my dry bones.