“Care-plans” as lived out in the book of Ruth has been our source for pondering and reflecting this last month. We come to the end of Ruth, the end of November and we enter the Advent season. Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts and lives for the birth of the Christ child, or Christmas. Elimelech cared for his family in the midst of a famine by moving to Moab. Naomi, his wife, is widowed, losses her two sons and is left destitute again with two daughter-in-laws. She cares for them by giving them freedom to return to their birth families. Ruth chooses to follow her and return to Bethlehem. Returning, Naomi is transparent about her bitterness and the hardness of life and Ruth has to now carry the story forward, scrounging for food, she cares for Naomi. But…the owner of the field is Boaz, a relative, and the two women create a plan to let Boaz know Ruth is willing to marry. Boaz accepts responsibility for our two women. The elders, who witness this decision, bless the couple.
This story is a bit like life. A mother cares for a child, who becomes independent and finds a new caregiver but then the story circles back as someone becomes ill or life gets complicated. Our care-plans are not written in cement and our lives have a way of taking turns we do not expect and we must flex. Care plans by definition are about people we are involved with who need help but I find it interesting that as the book of Ruth closes, the author returns his perspective to the bigger picture. Care plans are about how we try our best to create a better life for someone we love, given all the complications of life and relationship.
Boaz and Ruth have a son, Obed, who becomes the grandfather of King David and is part of the genealogy of Jesus. A story that started in famine, in need, ends in a genealogy of hope. Naomi who follows her husband to Moab is a hero in the end of the book of Ruth. The women of the city gather and “witness.” “Naomi has a son!” they claim. ”The daughter-in-law has been better to you (Naomi) than seven sons!” Who would have thought it at the beginning?
Caring for people is often hard work and involves sacrifice and unseen complications. Many days we wonder how it will all turn out as we evaluate our resources, financial, emotional and social. We often loose sight of the big picture. Ruth reminds us that others are watching. The elders that bless the couple are watching. The women who bless at the end are watching. Our children and friends are watching. And ultimately our life’s story is part of a bigger picture. It may not be the genealogy of Jesus but it is part of the story of faith. I pray as you care for those you are involved with that you will perceive, perhaps dimly,
- the hand of a God who walks with you for the good of all,
- the presence of the community surrounding you if only at a distance,
- and be part of a team working for good.
Yet again I fall back on 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him (the Lord), because he cares for you.” AMEN!