Monday Rewrite: Naomi’s Things

‘A few things I did not see…
Two figures as close as breathing in the dark of night.
A whispered hopeful conversation on a threshing floor.
Leftover food discarded at the side of fields.
Men bartering for the life of a woman.

The only things I could see…
empty roads after three dark funerals, a couple of sparsely-packed bags that weighed heavy with bitterness, an abandoned farm fallen into disrepair, the loss of everyone I loved, the local women swapping barely hidden comments as we crawled back, the dust on our feet and legs and bodies. No doubt accompanied by the stench of days of hard travel.

Things I had once seen…
two bright vibrant sons, a husband keen with the idea of starting a new life. A new home in a land away from loss and want and famine. The years stretching ahead of us as both boys walked down the aisle with two perfect daughters-in-law. A family complete as we anticipated grand-daughters and -sons, prosperous farms and bustling parties.

Things I did not expect to see…
my daughter-in-law refusing to leave me. Ever. Not in life or death. My old home town again, as we set our meagre bags beside our long-abandoned land. Ruth bright-eyed with ideas and weighed down with food from a generous benefactor. My own spirit resurrecting.

Things I would soon be seeing…
My bright-eyed Ruth remarried, to a generous man who had a heart that was more flesh than stone, more give than take. A child in my arms, wide-eyed, stunned by the size of this large world, a boy moving ever so gradually into a future with a far-reaching purpose.

One thing I could not have imagined…
you reading this today, knowing my many-generation-removed grandson, and him giving his life so that my story and the story of so many others, would count, would last, would mean something. And this in spite of myself, my loss, my pain, my short-sightedness and my despair.

We cannot see the whole of history, we barely see a comma on the page of time, so we cannot know what will be left behind, as we say farewell. As we travel from this world to the next. Reborn from the womb of this life into an unfathomable, unimaginable, unutterably satisfying reality. On good days we feel as if we may live forever. On the worst we can barely hope for another dawn. I had both. And looking back now, and flicking pages, I find the whole tale extraordinary. Moving to a new land with the men in my life, returning with no-one but a daughter-in-law I barely knew. Feeling like death warmed-up day after day after day. And the sun slowly, unexpectedly rising as my courageous daughter drew me back to life, risking all to glean food from the unprotected hinterlands of a relative’s field. Who would have guessed that her small, significant mission would glean her a husband? And a son. And a future for both of us. She is such a brave woman. And as she brought me back to life, so I was able to give her something back, something of hope and inspiration and strength. And that’s how it happened. That’s how she came to visit Boaz in the dead of night, secretly wooing him, winning his eye and his heart. And that’s how the disasters of my life turned into something else.’ No doubt you will have your disasters, your days of death-warmed up. I pray we all might find a Ruth, when we need one. Someone who has not given up. Someone with light and resurrection in their being. Someone who will travel the next day with us.’

Based on the book of Ruth.

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