I knew I had lost it. Definitely lost it, and I wasn't sure how to get it back. Oh, everything had been fine for the first few months. A bright and shining vision. A world of hope always before me like a clear sky on a spring morning. Or maybe I was just mistaken and that idea was only some version of a 1970's pop melody playing in my head. Now however, dealing with the highs and lows of brain cancer was getting really hard. I seemed to spend my days ping-ponging between the cold, grueling reality of chemotherapy and an over-emotional outpouring of kindness and compassion.

Sometimes I felt dead insideSometimes I felt dead inside; other times, I felt so sad and emotional I felt like dying. On the one hand, I could be unmoved by a mother bird still fluttering around its dead baby which had fallen out of its nest and drowned in my pond. A few hours later, a trip to the mailbox would send me to bed, sobbing over the cries for help which came in the daily mail — poverty in Israel, drug addicts on Native American reservations or homeless puppies.

Have you ever felt like this? Like you were stuck in the middle, aware that you were at some kind of crossroads, knowing there was "something" you needed or should do, but unsure of what it was or what step to take next? For me, these feelings or intuitive impulses were a source of frustration because they were nebulous or ill-defined and couldn't be rationally acted upon. As a result, I felt lost.

My typical landmarks (children, mitzvot (good deeds), work, daily routines, etc.) were changed somehow, becoming incomplete or even unrecognizable. All my old goals and visions had been either accomplished or forever dashed due to new disabilities. New goals seemed vague or unattainable. My situation seemed neatly summed up by Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." I'm definitely perishing here, I thought.

How does one know where to go or what road to follow in a situation like this? With me, the answers only came when I stopped trying to go, to do, to strike out for a new path or to find a new way through the wilderness, simply because I wanted a new vision or some new "grand plan." With G‑d's help, I discovered a new vision lay in an unexpected place — buried within me.

An ancient philosopher said we must "study the past if we would define the future." Given the urgency of my illness, remaining static was not an option; and in defining my future, I began to see that I would have to "re-vision" or "see again" the core values and issues that were once the center of my life, but which might have become obscured. Any vision for the future must integrate my past, so I set about to uncover my own personal history to see what lessons I could gain. In that process, G‑d seemed to bring me to a place where I could no longer ignore His voice. I had long-buried issues to address. My illness proved to be the wilderness place from which I could no longer run away.

When one is determined to unearth what has long been buried, it isn't long before dormant "Dry Bones" start to come alive. As the dust is blown away, the bones rise, and clutched in their scrawny fingers are old skeletons of hurt, resentment, anger and loss.

Most of us enter early adulthood with our emotional or physical injuries still close to the surface; over time, rather than cauterizing the open wounds and then binding up our injuries, we tend to bury our still-bleeding wounds until they become just another part of our desiccated lives. And for some of us, this pain comes so often and with such force that ironically, our only survival technique is to numb it until the living flesh metaphorically falls from our sinews.

I have to stop the process of making my life an emotional corpseLike everyone else I seemed to have a number of skeletons in my closet, and like most of us, I would prefer they stay neatly and quietly beneath the floorboards. But this year has been a critical time in my life. It is important for me to dissect and examine these issues once and for all, while I have time. I have to stop the process of making my life an emotional corpse. Could I do that? Some of my "remains" are buried so deeply, I can hardly find them. How can I even begin the process of exhuming the pain and hurt of the past?

But just as G‑d told Ezekiel to "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the L-rd,'" I have to decide to allow G‑d to revive me from my own Valley of Dry Bones. In this season of renewal, I have to brush away all the sand that is plugging my own ears. And I have to dig. For me, this year's process is harder, for I do not have the luxury of putting off long-buried issues. This year, I must dig deeply in order to correct, rectify and emotionally heal.

G‑d commanded Ezekiel to prophesy that in the days of redemption, He "will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves as My people, and bring you home to the land of Israel… and I will cause spirit to enter into you, and you shall live!... and you will know that I am the L-rd." While the Biblical account is speaking of the return of the house of Israel, we can apply the message personally here and now. G‑d can revive us and renew our strength, but it is a process. The process occurs with one bone, one sinew, one piece of flesh — or one buried and neglected issue at a time. But we must make an effort to "Hear the word of the L-rd." This does not only mean fulfilling regular deeds, but it means trusting that He will do what is best for me. Practically, this encourages me to learn not to be afraid.

I've never been a good "hearer." I want to brave my way through situations myself and trust in my own intelligence. I'm in my 50's and so many times I get annoyed when I can't do what I want. But sometimes this means I'm not hearing what G‑d wants to say. The process is all about making steps toward awareness of G‑d's ways, and following His guiding hand. And once we've heard, we can look to Him to restore and heal the wounded aspects of our lives.

Oh L-rd, unearth my dry bones. Revive my heart. Breathe new life into my soul. I will hear Your word.