The Valley of Dry Bones: Reflections on Desperation, Hope and Revitalisation
Lawyers are not, generally speaking, pious. I, like most lawyers, am not pious. In this blog, however, I reflect on the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones as vividly described in the Christian Bible (Ezekiel 37: 1-14).
Ezekiel was a Jewish prophet. He prophesied at a time when his people were held in captivity in Babylon. His vision of the Valley of Dry Bones is a good depiction of the lowest imaginable levels of desperation and hopelessness that any person or people can find themselves in. The incredible story of the “very dry” bones coming back to life to form a mighty army is a powerful message of hope in the face of extreme desperation and hopelessness.
Often, men and women give up in the face of grave tragedies and insurmountable challenges. Ancient Babylon was the world’s superpower at the time of Ezekiel (assuming the historicity of biblical stories). Most of Ezekiel’s compatriots must have resigned to their fate of captivity and hopelessness in a foreign land. Just like the dry bones came back to life and formed a mighty army, Ezekiel’s people eventually left captivity in Babylon, as their forebearers had previously left slavery in Egypt (again, assuming the historicity of biblical stories).
To me, the gist of the metaphor of the Valley of Dry Bones is that human beings can rise from unfortunate circumstances and achieve a lot in life. The gist of Ezekiel’s vision is that we can dust ourselves and rise again irrespective of failures, setbacks and tragedies. We can dust ourselves and rise again even after (i) the collapse of a business, (ii) failing an exam, (iii) missing out on a promotion, (iv) losing a loved one, (vi) contracting a debilitating disease, (vii) the collapse of a marriage, etc. Name it! We can rise again as long as we keep thinking positively, taking action to improve our circumstances and, for the pious among us, trusting in God. Even the oppressed among us can rise to high office. Even children from low-income families can excel in school and become persons of honour and repute.
In sum, the gist of the story of the Valley of Dry Bones is that we should never despair or resign to ill or dire circumstances. Our fortunes can turn around even when all hope is gone.
© Dr Muthomi Thiankolu.