Ruth’s life story is unlike anything in the experience of a modern British woman. Don’t let this put you off it! Her loving devotion to Naomi is a timeless example to all peoples everywhere for all time.
If you don’t know the story, here is a quick summary.
Naomi, her husband and two sons leave Israel at a time of famine and live in a foreign land. The sons take foreign wives. All three men die. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to return to their mothers and remarry. She herself will go back to Bethlehem. Ruth refuses to leave Naomi. In Israel she works to support Naomi, and eventually marries Naomi’s kinsman Boaz. Under local law this means the continuation of Naomi’s family line.
In an era when life was extremely difficult for elderly widowed ladies, Ruth’s dedication may have saved Naomi’s life. She took the hard path of becoming a foreigner because she was loyal to the family she had found through her first marriage.
Naomi must have been a good woman too because she gave both her daughters-in-law the chance to stay in their own land.
The Book of Ruth is such a perfect little story that there isn’t a lot that I can add. Except to say that Naomi reminds me that I have always been a great believer in the holiness of old ladies.
I think the holiest human in the whole world is probably a very poor old lady. I don’t know who she is, but I expect she’s gnarled and warty and probably spends a lot of time washing clothes in rivers. Poor old ladies know what humility and simplicity are out of necessity. Life can be very difficult for them, so when they dedicate themselves to serving others they truly are precious golden treasures.
Now that I ponder it, I wonder if this is why old ladies are the backbone of Christianity in Britain… and don’t forget that the biggest number of joiners of Facebook are now “grandmothers” looking for pictures of their grandchildren!
I don’t usually use words such as “precious golden treasures” as I think they’re soppy. In this case I really do mean them. On 10th August we will celebrate St Laurence’s Day. He said that the poor are the treasures of the church.