We were leaving the home where my Grandma lived, piling into the mini-van in comfortable chaos. Above the noise, I heard Koby speaking, “Mommy.”
Making sure everyone was buckled up, I turned to him as we pulled out of the parking lot. Driving away from Grandma. Unaware of time’s relentless march, and that we had just seen Grandma with the breath of life in her, for the last time.
“What, Koby,” I asked.
“Mommy. Your Grandma is so soft. It’s ok with me if you want to look like her.”
Tears rushed to my eyes at his sweetly innocent words. Because, you see, I have battled against the kind of softness he was referring to most of my adult life. I wilt inside every time one of the kids hugs me and gushes about how soft I feel.
I have fought softness.
But my Grandma, whose name ‘Maria’ which means bitter, was soft.
When I look at the circumstances of her life, it looks more like a battlefield; a valley of dry bones. She faced much that wasn’t easy. She could have succumbed to bitterness and let it make her hard.
Because bitterness can do that. It can suck life, eat away softness, and leave nothing but dry dust. Death comes slowly as decay devours softness leaving dry, hard, bones.
But Grandma lived in defiance of her name. She resisted the pull of bitterness, and let life fill her. I look at pictures and see the filling and the softening. I see how more of life brought her more softness. I see how the filling expanded her.
He that believed on Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7:38
People once believed that belly to be the seat of life.
When the belly is filled with the Bread of Life and Living Water, the fullness of it softens you and spills out.
And I wonder why I fight so hard against the softness.
Why have I let a world conditioned to hardness, to gnawing aching huger, blow its dry wind over me? Why do I look into emaciated eyes for answers?
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.
And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?
And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
What if we let God raise up an army of people not afraid to surrender their bitter valleys of dry bones for a River gushing life? An army of people who embrace the filling and seek the softening. People who break and share the Bread that is offered in overflowing baskets to the multitudes of hungry?
What if we became an army with rivers of Life gushing from our bellies?
We placed my Grandma’s body in the grave. We put it there because there was no more breath of life left in her.
It sounds like the end of hope. It sounds like in the end, the softness did just become dry bones.
But it didn’t. Because God wasn’t done yet. God tells Ezekiel that these bones are the chosen people of God, and that the people are saying that their bones are dried up and their hope is lost.
No. The grave isn’t the end of hope. There is always the breath of the Spirit . . .
Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people.
And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
And I will put my Spirit within you,
and you shall live!
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city . . .
(Italics taken from Ezekiel 37:1-14, and Revelation 22)