For Shavuot: Ruth Retold

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Chapter 1.

In the days when the militias ruled,
a woman and a man and their two sons
fled their homeland and crossed over
to the country of Moab.

The man was killed at the border
and the woman, whose name was Naomi,
was taken to a refugee camp
along with her two young sons.
In seven month’s time
disease spread through the camp
and Naomi was left childless.

After another year passed,
rumors spread of a cessation
of fighting in her home country.
Bereft, Naomi decided to return
home to her kin.

Naomi shared her plans
with two women whom
she had come to know and love,
two Moabite women
who had become her only family
in this strange country.

One woman told her, “No, you must not
go back, it is too much dangerous,
remain with us, we will help you
make a new home here in Moab.”
But the other said, “I will go with you.”

Naomi replied, “Stay here my sister,
why would you leave your home
for an uncertain future? You must remain
for my lot is much more bitter than yours.”

The woman, whose name was Ruth,
said to Naomi, “Do not tell me to stay.
Wherever you go, I will go and wherever
you live I will live as well.
Your future will be my future
and your fate, my own.”

The three women broke into weeping
and clung desperately to each other.
Then Naomi and Ruth left the refugee camp,
directing their steps toward the border.
Her home not yet in sight,
it occurred to Naomi that
the harvest season had begun.

As night fell and hope lingered
lightly in the air,
the two women offered up a common prayer
for a season of abundance
and a future of redemption.

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