Fifth Week of Lent
Sunday, March 29
This week's Wednesday Word
This week's Worship Link: https://zoom.us/j/602154862
"The Valley of Dry Bones" by Lisle Gwynn Garrity
used with permission
A Sanctified Art | sanctifiedart.org
I grew up and live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Almost all of the time, the woodsy wilderness is a place of retreat and restoration for me. I love the smell of trails laden with soggy leaves. I will never tire of seeing mountains crowned with morning mist. I feel most at ease with a purple ridgeline in view—from office windows, or traffic stop lights. And yet, there is a place in my geographical wilderness that haunts me.
To get to it, you have to drive down a gravel road that cuts deep into the valley that eventually flattens into the foothills. The gravel road lowers in elevation with every switchback, dropping you into the belly of the mountains. The valley is mostly empty, besides a few wooded homes. An old railroad, carved through stone and hillside, snakes through the rise and fall of the land. The railroad was built hazardously, through dynamite blasts and hand-dug tunnels, by five hundred prisoners and slaves in the late 1800s. Nearly a hundred and twenty of the workers died in the process.
The place I visit is an old logging road off the gravel way, now a wide walking path used mostly by bear hunters and lone hikers like me. The path meanders and eventually opens to a mountain view. Not long ago, heavy rains and landslides reshaped the mountainside into a graveyard of leaning trees and displaced earth. Sticks and broken limbs litter the ground, dry as bones. The wind carries the echoes of the past, of lives lost and workers abused. Here, the wilderness tells the story of death and decay.
Can these bones live?
Staring into the valley of dry bones, I am stirred by the sight and convicted by the question.