Wednesday, July 8, 2015

They Say Everything Old is New Again

“What has been will be again, 

what has been done will be done again; 

There is nothing new under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 1:9

The longer I live the more I believe it to be true. 

Without addressing for now the broader implications this prompt generates, its truth is easily applied to contemporary culture.

Old fashioned names have made a comeback as babies are given names that have not been on a school roster in decades. Though the list of most popular boy names includes the biblical Eli, Noah, Elijah and Isaac, it does not yield Ezekiel in 2015.

 In name association, Ezekiel takes me to my grandfather’s knee where I first heard that old spiritual “Dry Bones” and discovered musical skeletal anatomy. Pappy loved to sing to us about connecting those dry bones, modulating upward in successive keys to get to “Now hear the word of the Lord.”

“Dem Dry Bones” was sung by Rosemary Clooney, The Lennon Sisters and Tennessee Ernie Ford, who also sang “Sixteen Tons” in a bass voice like Pap’s. You don’t have to have watched the Lawrence Welk Show to remember these, but it helps.

So I learned about Ezekiel at a young age with rapt attention and vivid imagery. I read recently something that took me back there.

Before Ezekiel's calling God appeared to him in a vision and Ezekiel saw the glory of God, detailing when and where he saw this vision in Ezekiel 1:1. Ezekiel remembered where he was—precisely.

The writer etched in his mind so that he could draw upon that distinct memory. That intentional practice is important for us. Likewise, raising an Ebenezer is a way of marking a spot to acknowledge something important we must not forget.

I’ve never had a vision of God. I do not doubt that I can happen, it just has never happened to me. One occasion when I distinctly remember seeing an extraordinary sight –a vision, if you will--was while visiting with a dear woman in her home.

 I had known this family friend all my life, and she always had been old. Beautiful, clever, talented, full of grace and dogged determination— and old.  Now she was dying.

As I talked with her by her bedside I became aware of seeing what I can only call a transformation in her face, a subtle change in her countenance. For more than a few moments I beheld her with youthful vigor, a radiant glow. I was struck by an awareness that I was in a sacred space. Perhaps this is what she had looked like decades ago before her face was creased with lines and her upswept white hair framed her dark eyes. She was serene and still her beautiful self.

I tried to take it in not knowing what to make of it. The impression was distinct and ephemeral. We said goodbye for what I expected would be the last time. My mother and I went home. Within the hour the phone rang and I already knew: She was gone. I was at the time writing the words that would be spoken at her service later.

I was also struck with the awareness that there is so much more to this life than we can take in through our senses. I can never forget that time and place of experiencing an unusual sight though I did not speak of it for over ten years. 

When we limit our understanding of reality to that which we can quantify and observe, to those things we can put in boxes and stack neatly, we leave so much untapped. This experience I relate which occurred this very week years ago humbles me and reminds of the tremendous mystery in life.

 I am content to live with a respect for all that I cannot know and with gratitude for all that I do.

Ezekiel, we are told, fed upon God’s word and was sustained by the Spirit of God. That is not merely ancient literature: What sustained Ezekiel will sustain us today.

I want a vision of God's glory. I want to take in the Word of God until it seeps from the pores of our lives, and want to appropriate the Spirit's presence in our lives until God becomes our greatest reality.

The Presence of God becomes the power of God to sustain us—just as He promised.

Writing and from the porch at Upper Rawls at Lake Junaluska, NC. Blue Ridge morning mist cradles the valley train whistle over hot coffee: a trifecta for gifts of peace.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.   Psalm 90:2

1 comment:

  1. I'm just discovering you...brought here as I was searching for a pretty picture accompanying the words "underneath are the everlasting arms". The drawing of a thinking, smiling woman drew me ... Perhaps this is Elizabeth Elliot? The small amount I have read here is beautiful, inspiring, and encouraging.