Last fall I had the privilege of viewing an art print exhibition of The Saint John’s Bible. It is a most beautiful hand-written hand-illuminated that the Smithsonian Magazine described as, “One of the most extraordinary undertakings of our time.” It truly is a feast for the eyes, the mind and the heart.
The Bible is also rich in symbolism that is both traditional and contemporary. I was especially moved by the depiction of the valley of dry bones from the prophet Ezekiel. The montage reflecting the dry bones looks like a contemporary heap that images a spiritually dead society. It recalls real human suffering in recent past with skulls based on photos taken of genocide and wars in Armenia, Rwanda, Iraq and Bosnia. There is broken glass that suggests broken windows caused by car bombs and terrorist attaches. At the center is a pile of eyeglasses, a well-known image of the Holocaust. There is even a trashed automobile.
Contrasting the heaps of death, destruction and spiritual deadness is a rainbow across the top of the page. It foreshadows Ezekiel’s vision of the temple and is even punctuated with seven menorahs as a sign of the covenant between God and the people of The Saint John’s Bible.
Gold is used throughout the Bible to symbolize God’s presence. Even in the valley of the dry bones there are small glimpses of gold to symbolize God’s promise even in the midst of our darkest times. Having spent time in the valley of dry bones, I find the assurance and hope in God’s promise to breathe new life and light in the midst of our suffering.