Spiritual Exercise 24
Immediately on waking, I rouse myself to joy by imagining that the new life I need is coming today. I get dressed with thoughts like these. At my prayer place, I stand, my mind raised up, to consider how God is looking at me with creativity. I make a gesture of reverence and humility.
I ask for the grace to direct my whole self toward the Creator.
I desire re-creation in my life.
I read the prayer texts to consider the Lord’s creative action.
Using my imagination, I re-create the valley of dry bones. In some detail, I add the bones, colors, sounds, smells, etc. At my feet I place the dry bones of my own life: perhaps the bones of a lost dream, a barren relationship, a past hurt, a crippling injustice, or a heart-space of brittle fragility. Then, guided by the points below, I take part in the action of Ezekiel’s story:
I enter the scene. The Lord commands me to prophesy. I imagine and experience, step by step, what happens when I say what he commands:
I lay sinews on you, and cause flesh to come upon you, and you shall live.
I cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves.
I put my spirit within you, and you shall live.
After imagining God’s people come to life, I hear the bones of my own life move. I see them being covered in sinews and flesh. I watch them stand up and enter me. I feel the Spirit of the Lord knit this lost life back into me. I am filled with her breath of life.
I end in a short conversation with the Creator, giving thanks.
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds….” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God, I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people . . . . I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.” (Ez 37:1–12, 14a)
And now, [Mary,] your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. (Lk 1:37–38)
We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair. . . . We do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. (2 Cor 4:7–8, 16)
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (Jn 20:20–22)
Time: 35 Minutes
Preparation: 10 minutes. Opening Prayer: 1 minute. Desire: 1 minute. Prayer: 20 minutes. Conversation: 3 minutes. Listening Book: 10 minutes.
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This excerpt from The First Spiritual Exercises: Four Guided Retreats ©2013 by Michael Hansen is used by permission of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved.