The Old Testament reading set for Morning Prayer today was Ezekiel 12:1-16. In it, the exile Ezekiel is instructed to act out the experience of being an exile before a community of exiles, in carrying an exile’s baggage and digging through the city wall.
When our marriage breaks down, when our kid gets given that life-changing diagnosis, when we are made redundant or our home is repossessed, and in countless other such ways, we find ourselves, in a sense, exiles. No longer living in the life we had known, up till then, and unable ever to go back to the time before.
And, despite the fact that we are surrounded by other exiles—for marriages break down, children die before their time, careers are lost, and so it goes on, all the time, all around us—we find ourselves invisible, the other exiles studiously failing to see us. To acknowledge our exile’s baggage—for to do so would be a painful reminder of their own. To acknowledge the sheer hard work of grief, the needing to find our own way through it, the habitual path and practice of others simply blocked to us at least for now.
God says to Ezekiel, they might notice, or perhaps they won’t. Do it anyway. Carry your baggage and dig your way through the wall. I see you. I will give you strength. You shall find me in that place, and, with me, what is needful for the moment. And, in time, new life.