Control, Bones & Sticks


…Looking out of the window. The grass is brown, leaves are already falling from our apple tree… our parks are brown, crops in the fields of local farmers have suffered… it’s more than 2 months since we last had rain. The rain we desperately need is out of my control.

…Chatting to my friend Andy yesterday. His partner, Jayne, is a nurse on the intensive care unit at our local hospital. Andy was describing Jayne’s job, the pressure she’s under, her physical and mental exhaustion, her pay that doesn’t reflect the responsibilities she carries. Matters out of Jayne’s control… possible strike action?

…Workers currently on strike – dockers, refuse collectors, train drivers… feeling that their pay doesn’t reflect their skills, responsibility or value… suffering financial hardship… their worlds out of their control.

…Friends, fiercely independent all of their lives …recognising that they need carers to come and help with dressing, preparing food, cleaning, the bathroom… Some agreeing that residential care’s necessary …accepting that they can no longer control their world.

…Reading Ezekiel 37…Ezekiel sees a valley full of dry bones. God asks: ‘Can these bones live?’ Ezekiel speaks. Bones become skeletons; flesh and muscles cover the bones; skin covers the bodies…

‘Can these bones live?’ Ezekiel speaks. Breath enters the bodies; the bodies live. Ezekiel’s words, but engaging forces beyond his control.

God’s conversation with Ezekiel continues: ‘Take two sticks. On one write ‘Judah and its allies’; on the other write ‘Ephraim and its allies’. Hold the two sticks together as if they’re one piece of wood.’ It’s a picture of uniting a divided and apparently unreconcilable nation.

…What I would write on my two sticks… bringing together and uniting the apparently unreconcilable? Bosses and workers… Christian and Muslims… extremists and moderates… black and white… power-full and power-less… rich and poor… capitalists and socialists… republicans and democrats…

…Ezekiel’s pictures of bones and sticks… powers and forces outside my control… God, unlimited by human restrictions… new possibilities for the ‘my-controlled’ impossible.

8 thoughts on “Control, Bones & Sticks

  1. Just finished reading Brian McLaren’s book ‘Do I stay Christian’? Maybe, just maybe, God isn’t omnipotent? Maybe, just maybe, the future depends on the choices we make? Maybe, just maybe, Fermi’s Paradox and the Great Filter will put paid to our dreams?


    1. I’m just finishing ‘Do I stay Christian?’ I’ve enjoyed/been challenged by the discussion and go with a fair bit of what he says. It’s the first time I’ve met Femi’s Paradox and the Great Filter so am still thinking that one through. As for God being omnipotent…. that leads to all sorts of understandings, misunderstandings and useful discussion. Although you (and McLaren!) are right to ask the question there is still a large part of me that is content with the simple faith that says ‘yes he is’ – even if I don’t understand it fully.


    1. No problem, Graham. The story of the valley of dry bones is a parable/picture about transformation, the lifeless becoming living… The two sticks is about two conflicting nations – or groups of people – being reunited against the odds. Read it for yourself – see what you make of it.


  2. Surely, love and omnipotence are incompatible bed-fellows? If God is Love (as I believe), then Love has no option but to grant us free-will. Even if I was to presume God knew beforehand what I proposed to do (which I doubt), He/She would choose not to stop me. have you read much by Teilhard de Chardin?


    1. Thanks Peter. Thanks for the questions and discussion… I’m content to live with contradiction and paradox – like love and omnipotence. I’m content to say I don’t fulIy know or understand… it may be a cop out or cowardice on my part! I’m still on the journey of discovery… and no I haven’t read Teilhard de Chardin recently….


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