And Ruth said, Intreat not to leave thee,
or to return from following after thee: for
whither you goest, I will go; and where
thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall
be my people, and thy God my God.
Ruth 1:16 KJV
Didn't you care that you turned your back on your own tribe? Your own identity. Did you wonder about acceptance in a foreign place? Did you think about what your family might think? Why take the risk? Once you followed did you ever wonder about the decision? Naomi did everything to dissuade you from leaving.
What was it that pulled you? The trip back to Naomi's home wasn't easy. In some ways I expect that it was treacherous.
How could you simply accept her God? Maybe you had already begun and this was a final step.
Once I lived next door to someone who played the guitar and sang Appalachian folk songs and hymns. Born in Beloit, Mississippi --home of cotton and Delta Blues— she learned scat singing, how to string her own dulcimer, and believe that every word of scripture was true. She quoted scripture so often that I expect she had memorized most of the books.
Add a Phi Beta Kappa key to that and four boys, a husband who also came from Beloit, bags of pecans sent to Maryland from the family pecan trees, and a slow drawl that made seconds feel like minutes.
She kept extra Bibles, tracts, and a list of verses for every occasion on a bookshelf in the kitchen.
In this neighborhood of transplanted Southerners, Bible studies were more popular than bookclubs. And so I began to attend a morning Bible Study. Two small children and a break from teaching left me some time to indulge in the study and a silk screening course.
"Start with Genesis," she said, "and keep reading until you get to the end. Just read it like one long story."
And so I began to read. She sang Kumbaya
while I drank tea at her maple kitchen table.
"What do you think?" she asked.
"How," I say, " does Abram simply answer hinnneni , here I am, when God calls him? And then follows God's instruction to drop everything and leave his friends, his neighbors, to go somewhere strange—alien."
"Keep reading," she says.
I followed her to a tent meeting where a man of the cloth swayed and prayed and people walked to the front to accept Jesus, where people raised their hands in the air and called out amen, amen—Lord amen.
I followed her to the end of Revelation—always asking questions.
We went to Harper's Ferry to a dulcimer festival. A group from Georgia sang Amazing Grace
. She sang Amazing Grace
in her kitchen.
I just kept following along until I stopped following her and began to walk along on my own.
Do the questions ever go away?