So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
Ruth 1:22 (NIV)
When Meghan and I took care of the kids for one crazy month, a friend accompanied us. That’s what Paul J, my friend and pastor in Toronto called it. He talked about how Ruth committed to go with Naomi even though things were messy and unpleasant, even though they’d both had loss. Paul J said the way of accompaniment is a picture of how God loves. Ultimately, Jesus would accompany humanity through the raw grittiness of our sin all the way to the cross and grave. In so doing, he conquered death.
That is the gospel.
Whenever I wonder what it is like to be loved when you’re loveless, cared for when you care not and befriended when behavior reflects friendship’s antonym (at times enemy but at times apathetic bystander), I think about Ruth and Naomi. And I think about Meghan and our friend. And how we made it. And how it was mostly good. And how most days we laughed. And how some days we cried. Sometimes all together. Sometimes with bewildered children tugging on our clothing demanding attention…
In the end we would probably refuse to relive the events of that season. We would refuse to relive them but without regret.
Today when I ran, I thought it might be good to write down some stories I can remember about the things that happened back there (wherever, whenever) that led me to here. Paul J, the aforementioned friend, called this reading life. In order to read life, I, apparently need to write it down.
I had lunch with my friend Sean today, and he didn’t know a lot of those stories… And it is hard to accompany or be accompanied when the story being lived is unknown. So I’m going to start writing some things down. That is only one-half of the accompaniment equation. Because Ruth thought she was going with Naomi. Eventually, though, Naomi started healing, and the one being accompanied becomes the one accompanying.
So we tell our stories. And we hear the stories of others.
That month contained volumes of stories. So do the days and weeks in other places at other times. Telling the old stories creates hunger to live new stories. At least, that’s what I hope.
For me. For you. For the God who accompanies us.
So what’s your story? Who has accompanied you along the way? Thursdays are going to be days to tell old stories.