The nurse chirped, “Time to go.”
I was stretched out on a gurney. I wore a blue hat but not much else. Tape, tubes and wires wound around my hand and arm.
Vicki gave me a kiss and we rolled away.
It was a short journey. Brilliant lights swung into view. A disembodied hand lowered a mask over my nose and mouth. A voice said “oxygen” to no one in particular. I drew a breath and slipped into a void known only by God.
It was an Ezekiel 37 exercise.
“‘Can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘LORD God, You know.’”
Dry bones littered the ground. Was it real or imagined? A disturbed graveyard? The remains of an ancient battlefield? How can that which is scattered be rejoined? How can the forgotten be remembered? How can the dead return to life?
The surgeon’s task was simple by comparison. Plastic anchors had to be screwed into holes drilled through living bone. Then, lost hamstring tendons had to be teased from their hiding places in muscle bundles and stitched to the pelvis. All this required a delicate touch; the sciatic nerve runs through the path of the disaster zone. Above all else, it mustn’t be touched. Frankly, I was glad to be elsewhere.
“Then—listen now, a clackin'—and the bones came together, bone to bone. I watched—look now—tendons and muscles came upon them; then skin covered them. But these were breathless beings.”
“So I prophesied as commanded, and breath came into them; they came to life and rose to their feet, a great, great army.”
I struggled violently coming out of anesthesia. After successfully reuniting tendon and bone, the physician's assistant feared my thrashing would tear it loose again. She lay on my leg to hold it down. A steel brace was strapped on my body from knee to torso. Apart from the brace itself, I carry but one mark of the struggle: in the contest of teeth against lips, soft tissue loses every time.
This is Ezekiel's message of the future. One day, the People of God will arise from the grave of exile. God himself will breathe life into them. It is a message of hope for the lost and life for the dead.
“Then you will know that I am the LORD. I have spoken it. I will do it.”
I opened my eyes. A nurse in red scrubs was grinning at me. Her skin was dark; her eyes were bright. She helped me take a drink, the first in more than 12 hours. My throat was on fire. The inside of my mouth was ragged. My mind was woozy. I will not rise to my feet anytime soon. But I am very much alive.