Last week, one way or another, I seemed to spend a lot of time standing in the shadows cast by death, and I shared in a lot of grief. Love and tears for the most part characterized those encounters.
It seemed quite appropriate to spend this past Sunday listening to stories of dry bones and dead men walking. After all, we began Lent with the admonition that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. On the last Sunday before Holy Week begins, we return to that dust-dry death in the valley of bones, and to a more visceral, viscous, vicious-smelling death in the story of Lazarus. Yet love and tears abound in his story, too, despite the stench.
In the midst of life, we are told, we are in death. But like the bodies of the valley, like Lazarus, we are not left lifeless.
So we begin our walk toward Holy Week, toward the cross and the tomb, toward the empty tomb, with death at our shoulder, whispering dusty words, and life on our lips, mouthing the prayers that God has breathed into our dry bones.