15 So she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you, to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” 18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. 19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.Ruth 1:15-19
A mother and her children, what a holy bond, and yet this is not a mother and the children she bore. No, this is a mother and the children, that her children chose to spend the rest of their life with. Yet, when Naomi’s own children died, she was left with these two women.
The thing we see with Naomi is that she wants to not just grieve alone but she thinks the suffering she is experiencing is hers alone too. Yet, she forgets that not only has she lost her sons, but Ruth and Orpah have lost their husbands. They too have lost deep loves.
How will any of them every recover?
In Ruth’s calling we hear a woman whose grief is only rivaled by the one she is pleading with. The woman across the conversation with her, and yet in both their griefs they hope that they can hear one another.
To find one to walk a path of healing with you though, you need to open, willing to receive the love and care that others are offering. This is not a life that we can go at alone. As Naomi journeys back she wants to do this alone. She knows what awaits her when she returns to Bethlehem. She knows that in her return that she will be labelled “the widow,” “the one who lost all she had,” and the one who forsook her village, to go to Moab, to create a new life, and ultimately received punishment for forsaking the family she left behind.
And yet, there is no care of how she got where she was, crying on the side of a road, between Moab and Bethlehem. There is only this moment.
One daughter-in-law has left, and there is one left. This obstinate girl, who just won’t leave her to grieve and die in the loneliness of her heart.
Many of us empathize with Naomi. In our failures, loneliness, or sufferings we just want to be alone. We want to shut the world out, and “suffer in silence.”
However, we need that Ruth, that will be there, to convince us it will be ok. A Ruth who will never leave our side. Loneliness is the greatest enemy of grief. However, we must find ourselves a Ruth. We find those systems of support that lift us up and carry us back to Bethlehem. We find those supports who work and tend the field as a widow to take the burden off our grief.
We must find the communities that will surround us with support. Friends, family, those around us, who know us and care for us.
Self-care, while about self, is not an individual endeavor. It is lived most fully in community. We do that work of building our community and systems of support around us that we may care for others.
It is in the care of Ruth, that Naomi is restored. Two women, sharing their grief, what got them to where they are, and never giving up.
Sometimes it is that one friend, sometimes it is many. However, we find those support systems and we allow them to lift us up.
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