The Practice of Watering Dry Bones

The Practice of Watering Dry Bones March 30, 2019


I write these Saturday morning posts … on Saturday morning. Coffee cup nearby. Cartoon noises drifting from the family room. The sun just beginning to brighten the room.

Today, this room is a little brighter because the forsythia is in full bloom.

Not outdoors.

Outdoors, the trees and shrubs still rattle their dry bones when the early spring wind blows through them. This old farmhouse is sheltered by many very old maple trees. It is like living beneath a Gothic tracery of bare limbs. These days I am waiting–almost holding my breath–for that astonishing moment when twisted bare wood is suddenly dusted with bright green.

Though I watch, almost without blinking, for weeks, I have never yet seen the precise moment of its happening.

But indoors the forsythia are blooming because a few weeks ago, on one of the first warmish days, I cut some of the bare branches from the bushes on the edge of our property, and I brought them indoors. I filled a large glass vase with water and arranged the branches inside. The whole thing was so wide and unwieldy I could hardly squeeze it through the kitchen doorway, but I managed to bring it in here, to the front parlor, where it now glows, as if lit with its own yellow light, on the coffee table.

Like dry bones come back to life.


Sometimes all we can do is watch and wait.

But sometimes, the barren seasons, the Lenten seasons, invite us to a more vigorous hope. We cut the bare branches, bring them inside, plunge them in water, and set them in a warm spot.

It isn’t that I have made these dry bones live again. Yet, somehow, I have participated. I have joined in.

As if we were welcome, always had been welcome, to say, “Here. Right here on the coffee table of my home. Here is just the place for a burning bush.”

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  • Ingrid Lochamire

    Lovely. Thank you for the reminder to “participate” in the blooming.

  • Carol Sinex Schmidt

    Beautiful! Thank you!

  • Carolyn Metzler

    Thank you for this. Beautiful written. I always argue with myself about cutting branches to force earlier flowering. I used to do that, until it occurred to me that it is an act of violence. It forces the emergence of something that is not ready to emerge. As I’ve gotten older, it seems that the more faithful route is to wait with the empty branches until chairos time. That there is meaning in the waiting, without the pushed gratification. It WILL come. Wait for it. That is Lent. It is not yet Easter. Just an alternate perspective. Thank you, bless you. Carolyn