Bones are so symbolic: they are our deepest innards. They are the architectural structure of our bodies. When alive and well, bones are remarkably elastic. When they are not, they are brittle and weak.
Nothing represents desolation like a skull in a desert.
And scientists spend a lot of time gathering up bones, trying to piece together the past. Because bones are strong and durable in a way that most living parts are not.
It’s going to be all about bones on the blog this week, most of it tutorial-type stuff.
But I wanted to start the week with a story that I think about a lot, and have done ever since I read it back in 2009 when a friend gave me a copy of ‘Women who Run with Wolves‘ by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
It’s about the Bone Woman. Here’s a quote from the book:
She creeps and crawls and sifts through the montanas, mountains, and arroyos, dry riverbeds, looking for wolf bones, and when she has assembled the entire skeleton, where the last bone is in place and the beautiful white scupture of the creature is laid out before her, she sits by the fire and thinks about what song she will sing…This is when the rib bones and leg bones of the wolf begin to flesh out and the creature becomes furred. La Loba sings some more, and more of the creature comes into being…And La Loba sings more and the wolf creature begins to breathe. And still La Loba sings so deeply that the floor of the desert shakes, and as she sings the wolf opens its eyes, leaps up, and runs away down the canyon.
Somewhere in its running, whether by the speed of its running, or by splashing its way into a river, or by way of a ray of sunlight or moonlight hitting it right in the side, the wolf is suddently transformed into a laughing woman who runs free toward the horizon.
Full confession: I was too lazy to type this out, so I borrowed it from Ronna Detrick.
I loved her comparison of this tale to a tale in Ezekiel:
- In both, dry bones exist, seemingly discarded, forgotten, and scattered. They represent people – disjointed, broken, unglued, falling apart.
- In both, a voice is what calls them back together and invites reconnection, gathering, uniting.
- In both, breath enters and life returns.
- In Ezekiel’s story it is God’s voice communicated by the prophet. In Estes’ story, an old woman communicates directly.
- In Ezekiel’s story it is a command that calls the bones together. In Estes’ story, a song.
- In Ezekiel’s story, the bones connect and become a vast army. In Estes’ story, a wolf…and then a wild woman.
Like rearranging my skeleton to fit all the parts in.
It’s the same with our emotional bones.