Below I’ve printed a famous passage from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. It is the one that gave rise to the gospel song, “Dem Bones”, which goes through the body, ending with “neck bone connected to the head bone; Now hear the words of the Lord!”
To me it evokes the deepening experience of life.
When humans, through self-exploration and perhaps through bodywork or conscious bodmind practices such as yoga, discover how we have been disconnected, we begin to seek ways to reconnect within ourselves and with the world around us.
So our dry life, our dry bones can become reinvigorated; our movements become more fluid. Breath enters us and enlivens us. We feel our sinews, our sinuous ability to move and be strong, and our miraculous skin, sensing the world like an eardrum feeling the wind, touch, heat, cold, water, sun, and shape.
Then in Ezekiel the many dry bones arise together and formed an “exceedingly great host”.
This says to me that the bones of humanity are not just those of isolated beings. The spirit that breathes life into each of us, is the oxygen/carbon dioxide/spirit that pervade all the spaces between us. We are all connected by the miracle of plantetary gas exchange, the “tissue” of breath between all beings, just as the connective tissues and fluid in joints connect the bones in the body. Each person is thus a bone in the vast skeletal system of terrestrial life.
In the song the words, “neck bone, connected to the head bone; now hear the words of the Lord” mean bring your awareness up through your inner connection, through each bone. When you get to the head, the next connection is with the vast world beyond yourself.
On a related note, Emily Dickinson said, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
Finally, “breathe upon these slain, that they may live”, lets me know that we should not allow people to die in vain (on the battlefield or otherwise). We redeem the dreams of our ancestors when we genuinely work for world peace and harmony.
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and lo, they were very dry. and he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” and I answered, ” O Lord God, thou knowest.” Again he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
So I prophesied as i was commanded; and as I prophesied there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And as I looked there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was not breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O Breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.”