Madonna House

Old Bones, New Eyes

by a staff worker of MH

It is a wonderful thing when God gives us eyes that see, whenever he introduces us to a little more reality and truth. Our hearts expand, our vision grows wider and maybe even a little deeper. Truth becomes joy.

Discovering God’s mercy is like that. The cold, dark cellar in our hearts where the old dry bones clank around and grow moldy gets opened up to the light. The bones get less horrible and frightening; and it’s not so bad to have them exposed after all.

In fact, they change considerably in that light, and become what they really are—dry bones that God can bring to life.

Dry bones, hear the word of God. The Lord God says this to these dry bones: I am now going to make breath enter you, and you will live. I shall put sinews on you, I shall make flesh grow on you, I shall cover you with skin and give you breath, and you will live; and you will learn that I am God (Ezechiel 37:4-7).

My sins and tendencies toward sin are the dry bones inside me that make me afraid. I throw them into that cellar, shut a heavy door against them, and hope that nobody gets into my heart far enough to see the door, never mind the bones in the basement!

I even do my very best to ignore them myself, to pretend they don’t exist. And, if they sneak up the steps and clank the door open, I frantically shove them back down, and glance around quickly, praying that nobody else has spotted them.

But, sooner or later, God strolls by, standing around respectfully outside for a while, waiting for an invitation to come in. Usually I relent and say, “O.K, but only you, and only as far as the front hallway. That’s good enough for us to chat for a bit.”

The trouble is that whenever God gets in, he never stays in the hallway, but slowly edges his way into the living room, and before you know it, he’s asking what the big door in the back is for.

Totally alarmed, I babble on about other things, running here and there, serving coffee, and grabbing ash trays trying to distract him.

It doesn’t work. In his own gentle way, God is relentless. And, when I get exhausted from all my running around, he’s still sitting there, patiently waiting for some kind of an answer.

So I give up and say, “OK, I’ll show you, but only you, and don’t turn the light on. We can take a quick look, then get the heck out of there.”

We open the door together, and somehow, with God there, a light goes on automatically. Horrified, I try to bolt and run, but he takes my hand and says, “Wait. It’s not as bad as you thought. Look.”

Sure enough, when my panic subsides a bit, and I look with him in the new light that he has brought along with him, those old, dry, ugly bones take on a new appearance. They’re not so frightening and terrible to look at. I even relax a little, thinking, “With him, they’re not so bad.”

Together we look around a bit. He picks up a few of the bones, and I get nervous again, backing away a little. But, as he touches those old bones, I discover that they have become almost beautiful. I stand very still then, waiting, almost wanting him and the light to stay. I even leave the door open so as not to disturb him.

Then, distracted all of a sudden, I look around behind me, and there are other people standing nearby, silent and watching. Without my realizing it, they have spotted the light and come to see what was happening.

A little shy at first, I just say, “Hello.” Then, becoming a bit more confident, I add, “It’s O.K to come in if you want to.”

They do come in, quietly; and slowly; they too become beautiful in the new light. That’s when I realize that God had given me new eyes to see, and a new, open joy in my heart.

Adapted from Coming Home, an anthology of writings by the MH staff, all anonymous, (1977), pp. 94-96, Dimension Books, out of print.