Struggles of Joy #5

Chapter 7

“Naomi! Mother! Come quickly!” As she slammed the door, Ruth scanned the house for her mother-in-law’s face.
            “Ruth, my daughter, what is it? Are you okay?” Naomi flew in and looked sick because she was so afraid for her daughter-in-law. Feeling a twinge of remorse for scaring Naomi, she promised herself she would never frighten her like that again.
            “Look Mother,” Ruth replied, showing her the huge bundle of grain. “This is what I gleaned today!”
            “My daughter! How did you gain so much?” Naomi was clearly surprised, and Ruth took joy in seeing her happiness.
            “Oh, just wait till you see what else I have! Look at this!” She opened the bundle in her arms to show Naomi the leftovers from lunch that Boaz had so kindly let her take home. Ruth could hardly keep her smile away as she saw Naomi in entire shock and try to compose herself enough to give a reply.
            “Ruth... I... I don’t know what to say!” Ruth giggled as her mother attempted to put into words her amazement. “Where did you glean today? Where did you work that you were so blessed?”
            “Well, this morning I searched and searched for a place to glean. I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do or if I would even be allowed to glean at all. I ran into one woman who, well, she wasn’t very hospitable. However, I met a friend. You have some very nice people in your land. I am glad I came to live with you.”
            “Ruth! Tell me who gave you all this food! Don’t keep me in suspense anymore,” interrupted Naomi, who was getting very impatient.
            “Alright mother,” laughed Ruth, placing a comforting hand on Naomi “his name is Boaz. He’s so_”
            “Boaz! May the Lord be praised,” Naomi interrupted again. Her whole composure changed and Ruth noticed that she seemed happy. That was something she hadn’t seen for the longest time in her mother-in-law’s eyes.
            “Why are you so happy that I gleaned in Boaz’s fields, Mother?” questioned Ruth.
            “Boaz is a well respected man who loves God, and he’s our relative. He hasn’t forgotten me in my absence. May God be praised and may He bless Boaz richly for his kindness to you! You know,” smiled Naomi, coyly looking at Ruth, “I might actually have a new family, and a grandchild I can call my own.”
            Ruth cocked her head and looked confused but then, as the meaning of what Naomi had said sunk in, she blushed a deep red. “Mother! Don’t even think about that! He has just helped a stranger in his land; he has not given any sign that this could potentially be... well... more. You have high hopes that cannot be.”
            “Well, we’ll see about that. Did he tell you anything else?” Naomi spun around and went back to the kitchen. Ruth followed her, as she knew their conversation was not finished. The two talked about whether or not it would be wise to keep gleaning in Boaz’s fields, but Naomi assured her that it would not be bold of her to go back, and furthermore, if Boaz told her to come back, she surely must go back. She would be able to keep away from the abusers in other fields that could cause her harm as long as she stayed in Boaz’s fields. This day was the beginning of a long stretch where Naomi and Ruth were both happy.
Chapter 8
             Every morning, Ruth would get up, prepare her lunch, say goodbye to Naomi and head out the door to glean in Boaz’s fields. She never had to worry about others mistreating her, because Boaz made sure that no one ever harassed her. Ruth also began to see a change in Naomi, and it made her ecstatic. The dark circles under Naomi’s eyes began to disappear, showing she was sleeping again. Her eyes began to sparkle and she began to smile more, and soon, she was laughing and telling stories of the old times.
            Ruth’s favorite time of day was the part where she came home and ran into her mother’s welcoming arms. Ruth noticed that as time went on, Naomi was letting go of her past and moving on. It brought so much joy to Ruth as she watched her mother transform from a depressed and sour old person to a smiling and joyful woman who didn’t seem as old.
One day, as Ruth walked home with her usual sack of grain and leftover lunch, she was ready to have a good long talk with Naomi. Ruth opened the door and expected to hear Naomi’s voice echo as it had every day before for so long, but she heard nothing.
“Mother, are you here?” Ruth looked around once again and then walked into the kitchen. Still she found no one. Setting down her belongings, she went into her mother’s room and there she found her, sitting on the bed, crying. Ruth let out a little screech and ran to her side.
“Mother! What has happened?” Ruth fell down beside her mother’s bent form. What could have happened to make Naomi so sad? “Have I done something to upset you? I am so sorry!”
“No dearest. I am not sad at all!” She looked up and Ruth saw her smiling through the tears. Very confused, Ruth tried to make sense of what Naomi had just said. “You’re not sad or upset; you’re happy, yet you’re sobbing like your son has just died. I don’t understand.” Ruth sat down at her mother’s feet, ready for an explanation.
“You see, I have finally been able to let the hardships of my life go. I’m not living under their curse anymore. I feel as if God has resurrected me from the grave. I feel as if I have been living on death’s door itself and now I have been revitalized! My God is remarkable, Ruth! Don’t ever take his power for granted!” She stood up and lifted her hands to the sky in worship. “May God be blessed for all he has shown me. I was lost and dying, but he found favor in me and raised me up!” Ruth stood up beside her and smiled, thanking God for showing Naomi how much she was loved.
Thank you Adonai. You have answered my prayers! Truly you are a God who can be worshiped and trusted, for you have brought the dead back to life!
            “Now, tell me,” began Naomi as she sat and pulled Ruth down beside her, “how was today’s work. Did you talk with Boaz again? Did anyone harass you?”
            “Mother, of course not.” Ruth replied as if it was the stupidest question one could ever ask. “Boaz would never let anyone harm me. He is such like a father to me.” Naomi put her hand on Ruth’s cheek and smiled. “Just like a father? Do you think he could ever be ... more?”
            Ruth immediately put her head down in embarrassment and blushed all the way to the roots of her hair. “Mother, please, we’ve been over this before. I cannot ask any more of him. He’s been so kind to us. Please do not even suggest_”
            “Ruth, he is our close relative. He has a duty to marry you, because my son’s have died. It is his job to give me an heir to continue on our name. Don’t act as if you haven’t thought about it. Your eyes tell me everything that you do not speak. When you tell me of your day, your eyes_”
            “Mother, please,” begged Ruth, closing her eyes, but she couldn’t keep a little smile from appearing. “I don’t need you to tempt me anymore. I must keep my thoughts pure. If you are here telling me it is okay to feel the things I do, how can I keep my thoughts captive? We mustn’t talk of this.” She stood up and walked towards the door. “I must fix dinner. You rest, I think you need it.” She left the room and went to the kitchen to make some fresh bread with the grain she  had gleaned.
            What can she be thinking? I cannot marry Boaz! He is so much better off than we are, even if he is our relative. Anyways, there is no duty to marry a foreigner. Mother must be having a hard day and she’s trying to stay happy by suggesting that nonsense. God of Jacob, I beg of you that you show Naomi what is right. Let me keep my thoughts pure of anything that could pull me from you. I do not wish to be sidetracked by a man.
            She continued to pray for herself, for Naomi and for their life as she made the bread. Little did she know that her God was going to answer her prayers, but not in the way she was expecting him to.