We seem no sooner over Halloween than Christmas is upon us.  Advent is the season before the Nativity in the Church calendar, but in the consumer culture of North America, it is Halloween and then suddenly, overnight, Christmas.  Stores remove ghosts and death masks from their window displays and replace them with angels and nativity scenes.  Skeletons become newborn babes.

In the bleak mid-winter we are told to forget the ghouls of the death season and rejoice in the festival of lights, Hanukkah and the light and life of Christmas.  Eerily grimacing pumpkins, squashed and mouldy, are succeeded by menorahs and strings of Christmas lights.  Haunted houses are dismantled and stables constructed; screams from the abyss become carols.

Death juxtaposed with life, the horror and them the holy, the eerie and then the mystical.  The film, “The Nightmare before Christmas” grasps both the macabre and the joyful.

“Son of man, can these bones live?”  God asked Ezekiel.  “Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, we are cut off,” the House of Israel laments.  Then God commands, “Breathe into these slain that these slain may live.”  And the bones came to life, stood up and became a vast army.

Some pro-lifers in North America may feel that our hope is gone.  Some may feel that we are cut off from the political and legal establishments of our day.  We are so inundated with the horrific images of aborted babies, of victims of pornography, abuse and crime.  We gawk at Kevorkian’s death machinery.  We endure daily these deadly realities, these skeletal remains.

We need also the vision of light, of hope, but we will attain it not by turning a blind eye to this culture of death, but by having those dry bones transformed into a community of joy.

We behold this often on a small scale, in tiny epiphanies.  We are seeing victims speaking up, victims who seemed as good as dead: victims who have survived botched abortions, victims of pornography, abuse and violence, the medically vulnerable, being given flesh and strength and voice.  We must encourage those virtually slain among us to be revitalized and empowered.

Even if we do not see, as in Ezekiel’s vision, a whole society suddenly transformed, we can still perceive and appreciate these tiny, yet intricate metamorphoses.  For those in the pro-life movement, no matter what our faith commitment, our hope is not gone; we are not cut off.

As long as we have a vision of the dry bones being clothed with flesh, given sinewy strength and the breath of life, we need not despair.  Rather we stand in awe and amazement.