is a transliteration of the Greek word, εγερσις, which has the meaning of being roused to life. Thus, it is my hope that what you find on this blog will empower, arouse, stimulate, excite, and animate your life--your soul, your spirit--the wholeness of who you are.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mummified Living

All that is left is skin and bones—this is what I read recently in a mummy-making description by Herodotus in Book Two of The Histories. Herodotus describes the three ways that Egyptians mummify corpses. Mummification by any of these three methods is gruesome, yet I found the process fascinating and have been reflecting on a small piece of it. The Egyptians place the corpse in natron, which according to my dictionary is the mineral, sodium carbonate. After a prescribed number of days, the body is removed, the innards have been dissolved, (as Herodotus words it), and all that is left is skin and bones. Skin and bones! This conjured up images of unwrapped mummies and the old black and white mummy movie with Boris Karloff, and now I’ve been thinking about skin and bones, and dead people, and life.

A few years ago for a unit study on ancient Egypt, my daughters and I, along with my friend and her daughters, mummified six game hens. These were store bought hens which we tenderly washed and dried and placed in tubs of salt. Every few days we replaced the moist salt with dry. By the end of a few weeks, we had leathery and boney game hens—the skin and bones. Now if our small efforts to mummify a poor bird resulted in bones wrapped in leathery skin, my imagination takes me to the human body in the same condition—a skeleton wrapped in a leathery skin. As I reflected on this, I began to think about the human condition in general and more specifically, about those of us who are not yet physically dead but who live mummified lives. We are walking skeletons wrapped up in a tough, leathery skin.

Of course, we don’t look leathery or tough, but skin is the only thing holding us together. Our insides have dissolved and died. At points in the past, our soft inner places were wounded by family, friends, peers, by tragedy, loss, and shame. And bit by bit, these wounding grains of salt sucked out the moisture of the soft interior until the only things remaining were the dry bones and the shell of skin. Somewhere inside is the shriveled up softness that was part of the real person, but the leathery exterior prevents its reconstitution. That sensitive place remains hidden in its deadened state. That way there is no more pain, no more hurt, no more wounds. It is the dead zone of the soul. Our leathery lives are stiff and uneasy. We are breathing, but are not fully alive; suffocating, but not fully dead. This is mummified living.

We need to be unwrapped and softened up. And oddly, this must happen from the inside out. No amount of leather oil will plump the fleshy innards. It may make the skin more flexible and pliable, but the shrunken interior will stay shrunken. The only thing that will hydrate that shriveled place is water. But not just any water will do. It needs water that heals, water that restores, water that has life in it. To really live, the dead parts of the soul must be resurrected with living water. Jesus says that he has this kind of water. He claims that his water will fill those who drink it and that it will spill over into eternal life. Rehydration of the inner person is a resurrection journey. It is the process of soaking those dead bits of the soul until each one is soft and full and living. But it is a painful undertaking. Each grain of salt burned a scar into those bits, and those scars are stretched and pulled as they swell with moisture. Nevertheless, we drink and allow the inner places to be restored. The leather is no longer necessary. Restoration flows outwardly to wholeness and completion. And when the physical body dies, resurrection remains, and life continues in eternity.

Mummies have no life in them. Their soft interior is gone, and all that remains are bones wrapped in leathery skin. This is what it is like to live a mummified life. It is living outwardly while dead inwardly. Shapely on the outside, hollow on the inside. This inside needs filling. The desiccated soul needs restoration. Water is the remedy. Water from the spirit of Christ. Resurrection water. Only this water fills the hollow, saturates the soul, and resurrects the whole person. This is life. This is living. This is the resurrection journey which ends in eternity.


Herodotus. The Histories. Translated by Robin Waterfield. With an introduction and notes by Carolyn Dewald. Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1998.

New American Standard Bible. See the Book of John, 4:7-14 and 7:37-39.

Mummy picture found at Egyptian Picture Gallery and copyrighted by

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