This is how it went down.
The overwhelming hand of the Unfathomable, Unchanging One was upon me.
I stood before him. He spoke my name. Then, He lifted me up, and carried me instantly away from my home to a far valley, where He placed me in the middle of the valley floor. My home vanished from me, and the sight of my village faded into a view of the valley. It was like waking up from a dream, except it was the dream I was waking into. It was like waking down.
I stood on the only empty spot in the valley floor. Everywhere around me, in front of me, behind me, to my left hand, and to my right, lay countless bones. The bones of fallen men, women, and children, covering the ground as far as the eye could see, from my clear perch, to the very feet of the great mountains that surrounded. The ground was blanketed; the only grasses visible were the tall weeds growing up between bare ribs and open jaws. The bones were scattered in the postures of death, as if the flesh melted off them like wax and left them bare and unchanged, to whiten in the unforgiving sun. It surely was a massacre. An entire people slaughtered. Some had weapons, broken and rusted, half-buried among the bones of their owners.
The air was still, unmoving, as if the death that reigned over this cursed valley stole the life of the wind also.
I couldn't speak. I trembled as I stared at the open grave around me.
Then, from the mountaintops, from the earth below, from within my chest, rumbled the voice of the Ever-Present One, the Warrior-King and Jealous Redeemer of men.
"Speak truth over these dead bones. Say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Unchanging One! This is His word to you: I will bend down from my cosmic throne, and breathe into you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to your bare joints, and make muscle and tissue, vein and artery and skin, to grow over your naked frames. When I breathe in your dead nostrils, you will live. Then you will know that I AM, I alone, the Great and Gracious Covenant-Maker!'"
I cowered. I have no great fear of dead men's bones, but the pronouncements of the Earth-Builder remind me of how frail I am.
I took a breath and looked out over the valley.
In the far end of the valley, I heard it. A rattle, like bare branches blown together by a coming storm. Then I saw it, just barely: a ripple. Movement. Shifting. Settling.
"Dry bones, hear the word of the Unchanging One! This is His word to you: I will bend down from my cosmic throne, and breathe into you, and you will come to life."
I could see the ripple clearly, starting at the edges of the valley floor and moving inward. When you drop a stone into a pool, the ripples are born at the place you drop the stone, and spread outward. But in this valley, the ripples began at the shore of this dead sea, and moved inward. Toward me.
"I will attach tendons to your bare joints, and make muscle and tissue, vein and artery and skin, to grow over your naked frames."
An arm shot up, not far away. It's fingers were still white and bare like birch branches, but from the shoulder grew a tan trunk, unmistakable in composition. I could see the white cords wrap around the elbow before the flesh rose up to cover them. When the hand was fully clothed, I looked around to see the rest of the bodies so adorned. They remained piled, but now were clearly whole bodies. They seemed to sleep in piles, laying beside and atop each other, legs askew, arms draped over stones and nearby limbs.
"When I breathe in your dead nostrils, you will live. Then you will know that I AM, I alone, the Great and Gracious Covenant-Maker!"
They were perfect. Yet their eyes were closed. They didn't breath. It was a felled forest of corpses.
I was terrified. I couldn't move my arms or legs. Then I heard the Voice again.
"Speak my truth to the breath. Say, "This is what the Most High says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and flow into the lungs of these massacred, into the mouths of these struck down, so that they may taste of life."
I cleared my throat. I opened my mouth to speak, and I felt it. The slightest breeze, teasing the hair on my arms. I hesitated. The breeze died.
I began. "This is what the Most High says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and--"
The howl began in the mountaintops, and swept down with the fury of a hurricane. I know I said the words, just as the Eternal One commanded, but I could not hear myself say them. The winds screamed in my ears, their force nearly knocking me to the ground. Yet I could almost feel a pair of hands steady me in the storm. The grasses laid down against the earth, under the force of the maelstrom that descended from the peaks. The bodies began moving. I thought the wind had become so strong that they were being rolled around by its terrible hands. Yet, they didn't roll blindly or move weakly. Each body stood up, just as easily as if they were getting out of bed. Then the winds died instantly--the very breath of the world stolen away.
There they stood. A multitude of silent, fierce figures. Eyes burning. Hands clenched in fists. The sound of their breathing filled my ears. An army. They rose in unison, so quickly, so silently, that I reacted the only way I knew how:
I was surrounded. The closest of them were close enough for me to touch. Or for them to touch me. There they stood, very real. Very alive.
Then the Voice spoke once more.
"These bones are like My People. They say, 'Our life has withered away; we are alone; our hope is gone. We have been abandoned by our Creator. He Who Sees sees us no longer.' Therefore, go to My despairing people, and say to them, 'This is what the Faithful Ancient of Days says: O My people, I am going to open your graves and resurrect you from them. I will bring you back to your own good land. Then you, My wayward people, will know that I am the Keeper of the Great Covenant, when I lift you up from the Kingdom of Death. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own good land, the inheritance I promised to your ancestors. Then you will know that I, the Almighty Protector, have spoken, and I have fulfilled My own word,' says He Who Brings It To Pass."
One moment I stood amongst the resurrected; then, just as easily as breathing out and breathing in, I found myself standing in my own house, weeping and trembling.
I praised my Maker for his grace, then I dried my tears and walked out the door. I had a word to deliver.
See, you don't have to be dead to be dead. And even when you feel dead, you can be made alive again. For the Righteous One is good, and His promises endure forever. In Him is my hope resurrected; in Him is my joy restored.