Aaron was the last to exit the room. His disappearance left a hush in Tim’s Sunday school class. Ruth, the middle sister, departed silently, along with Sarah. Nathanael remained beside Lily in equipoise.
Tim knew to refocus the class on the passage under discussion. “Do you feel sympathy towards Naomi?” Tim asked the class.
Lily wanted Nathanael to speak up but he remained quiet in observation, stolid.
“I do, Tim,” Lily said. “She is not from Moab. She went there with her family with thoughts of it being better than where she had left. And yet—”
“Yes?” Tim said. “Is there more?”
“Well, rather than better fortune for her and her family in Moab, she has experienced misfortune and suffering. Her husband and sons have died. She has two daughters-in-law. And she is battling bitterness towards God because she believed she had done the right things,” Lily said.
Tim nodded and looked out at the class from his stool. Several people nodded silent agreement with Lily’s analysis.
“That seems spot on, Lily.”
“Of course Naomi had a battle to wage. But she needed to just get on with it,” Beth retorted. “Death occurs in our families. I should know. But we must go on. That’s what I would have done.”
Lily felt movement at her elbow. “Beth, how long has my grandfather been dead?” Nathanael asked.
“Why you!” Beth snarled. “This is not about Daddy.”
“Exactly, Beth. This passage about Naomi and Ruth is not about Granddaddy–and it’s not about you either,” Nathanael said.
Lily felt trapped as if among brambles. She looked up at Tim.
“There is much occurring here,” Tim said. “Can we all agree that Naomi had at least a lot to sort out, to battle, to perhaps even learn from?” Almost all of the class appeared to nod in agreement.
“Yet, as Beth brought up, Naomi did continue in spite of death and deep sadness, even in a place where she was an alien,” Tim said.
This seemed to mollify most of the class. Lily wanted Nathanael to say more but he remained silent and composed. Beth sat with her forearms folded across her chest. Her bracelets clanked upon one another in cacophony as the class bell sounded in the hall to dismiss for the worship service.
“May we pray together about what we have seen here this morning?” Tim asked.
Most of the class members closed their eyes. Many heads leaned forward as if in petition. Beth remained upright on her metal chair. Lily leaned slightly towards Nathanael to feel his presence. He pressed one forearm towards Lily as if in solace, as Tim addressed the God of Naomi.
(To be continued)