Today's Reading: Ruth
The story of Ruth is so familiar, but read in the midst of our chronological readings after yesterday's story, it has a whole new ring to it. Perhaps the better word is a resounding gong of vulnerability.
First of all, I wonder if Elimelech knew the girl from his town whose story we know from the last chapters of Judges. After all, it is during the same time period and Bethlehem could not have been so large that all those battles and the terror of one of their own would have been missed or at least recalled.
As if war wasn't enough, now famine. The people of scripture had hard, hard lives. The trip from Bethlehem to Moab took between 7-10 days. The elevation changed by about 2,000 feet and the Jordan river would need to be traversed. It was a journey of "retreat," not restful retreat, battle weary retreat.
Then, just when life is looking good and prosperous, Elmelech and his two sons die, leaving the women (and we know the vulnerability of women now) all alone. Back they tread, Naomi and her now foreign daughter-in-laws. Seven to ten days without protection, a band of mixed races, headed back to an impoverished land. No wonder Naomi called herself bitter.
I wonder what they faced along the way. I wonder what they faced upon return. I wonder what they planned as they walked along, or if all they could do was to put one foot in front of the next.
Imagine the tenacity of these women!
Nowadays, we get grumpy and complain when our heating or cooling system goes on the blink. We get all out of sorts if we have to wait in traffic while we wait in airconditioned cars with radio or iPod entertaining us. We turn up our noses at bruised fruit in the grocery store. We get all excited if we walk a couple of miles a day. We get afraid at night, lock our doors and carry mace in our purses.
Imagine their vulnerability!
Can we even begin to enter this story?
As an educated, middle class, professional woman, I cannot imagine how I would face what they faced. And yet, there are women in this world who are just as vulnerable.
Thank you, God, for watching over Naomi and Ruth. Thank you for including their story in your Holy Word. Thank you for honoring them with a child who became the distant grandparent of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
And Lord, though this is selfish, thank you for the life you have given me. Forgive and correct me when I am ungrateful. Bring my awareness to those who are truly vulnerable.