“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. 2The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 3But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4These took Moabite wives; the name of one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there for about ten years, 5both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that woman was left without her two sons or her husband.
6Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had had consideration for his people and given them food. 7So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. 8But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.’ Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud.”
The journey from Moad to Judah is roughly 30 miles, around the Dead Sea and on a clear day you can see one land from another. But for Naomi, this first journey from Bethlehem to Moab was one of hope but the return, one of despair. They had about a week wrangling what necessities they could carry and what livestock that could still be reasonably cared for or used for the journey. But the stuff wasn’t enough to keep them safe and I wonder what strength Naomi truly felt int the sight of these things to carry back home to Judah. What strength she had to pack it all up again. And to see these young daughters-in-laws, who were widows too, were given a choice to join her on this journey to her home, but foreign land to them or return to their families? How did she shoulder it all to slowly journey back?
Lord of steadfast love, you’ve journeyed with Naomi into a new land and even as she faced the dark shadow of loss in her life, we give thanks that you held her close still. Yet, we know all too well that shadow in our own lives is one we mistakenly sit within alone. May the warmth of your loving embrace be one that fills us with peace. Through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.