Listen, I will make breath enter you so you may come to life… I will put my spirit into you… (Ezekiel 37, 1:14 The Valley of Dry Bones)
I had been looking incredibly forward to the 30-Day retreat. I was so ready to melt into Godde. It took me a while, however, to settle into the rhythm of silence, prayer, meal, chat with the director, Eucharist, walk, sleep. Every evening we were given a road map for the following day, and a ‘menu’, i.e. several biblical passages from which to choose to pray.
Suddenly, I felt old (which I sort of am), grey, mousy, lifeless. Why had I come here? How did I expect to serve Godde this late in life? Would Jesus ever call ‘me’? How much could I hope to reform my life? Of course, the mere fact that I had come meant that I had felt called, one way or another.
I am not quite sure how the thought came to me, but it came loud and clear and it said, ‘I am sleepwalking through my life’. Routine was the master-puppeteer of my life, an interesting routine, I admit. But how much of me was really in it?
I felt drawn to the story of the valley of dry bones, as if some part of me knew that there was a message in it for me. I felt dry like the bones. In some ways, I had closed doors on life, as if I was slowly closing down one part of me after another. I am not quite sure why, and I certainly was not aware of my doing it. Until I stopped the daily routine and stayed in a room alone long enough to start meeting myself. Then I was struck with what I saw.
My life had so little life in it. “I came so that you might have life,” said Jesus, “and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)
Yes. I will take more life. Thank you.
Interestingly, having more life may mean losing it…
I know that more life does not include more things. More here and now, yes. Like the smile this old man flashed at me in the restaurant today. He did respond to mine, glowingly. He looked so radiant. So alive.
I have not spent a lot of time yet thinking of how I will put more life into my life. I had a month alone, I know. I reviewed my life. That was also somewhat bleak. I found that I am part of the problem, as in ‘structures of sin’, ‘of the world’, more than simply ‘in it’. The question then was, Do I want to be part of the solution?
Being part of the solution should definitely add some life to my life.
As you can see, I have formulated neither an answer nor a program. There has been, however, a quickening of my blood stream, a joy in my heart when I meet the eyes of my smiling Christ on the cross. A certain new readiness in me, a bit like when Jesus said “Thalita Koum” to the little girl who was dead. She woke up, she got up, and all was fine.
Life will unfold in its own time.
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God’, wrote Pierre Teilhard many moons ago… “We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new… Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete”. (Hearts of Fire, 102)
I am in your beautiful hands, dear Godde. I trust You.
Photo: Martha Graham, Appalachian Spring, 1944, music Aaron Copeland