“I did not mean to startle you,” Nathanael said softly, as Beth prattled.
“I’m sorry. Yes, Glim is fine. Finding my way, you know, my place.”
From his stool, Tim saw Beth make herself the focus of attention again but he was patient.
“Yes, of course. Desiree, welcome back. We are thankful you have come. And Alice, welcome,” Tim said.
Beth sat with both legs pressed firmly onto the classroom floor, arms akimbo on her hips, waiting for Tim to congratulate her.
“And Lily, welcome to you again, too. We are grateful you have all come. I think everyone else is our marrow. Glad to be gathered with you all,” Tim continued.
Beth glowered at Tim, crossed her arms over her chest, and the sleeve of bracelets on her arms looked to Lily like a brass Slinky toy.
Lily’s eyes twinkled when she looked amusingly at Nathanael. He sat composed with his coffee, apparently thankful for Tim’s acumen.
“We will resume in the story of Ruth this morning,” Tim said. He had a worn Bible on the music stand serving as a lectern and colored Post-its and bookmarks taped throughout with annotations. Suddenly Lily thought of her own Bibles and books of literature and writing in her classroom and in her apartment with their notes and her musings on her reading. She warmed to Tim more each time she came to Beulah.
“Let’s review, shall we? First, there was a famine in Judah, the hometown region, if you will, of the main characters—Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Naomi, along with her husband and two sons, travels to Moab out of desperation. The sons married Moabite women. But Naomi’s husband and two sons die, and she is left with two Moabite daughters-in-law. She is a widow in the ancient Near East. She had gone seeking relief from the famine and instead found herself a widow, a decade later, with daughters-in-law, bereft, and longing to return to her home back in Bethlehem, in the land of Judah.”
“As I said last time, Tim. Remaining at home and fighting for what’s yours is often the best way. That’s what Naomi should have known,” Beth interjected.
“Really?” Tim asked. “You think that’s what is going on here? After all, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, was taking his wife, Naomi, and their two sons to Moab in hopes of providing for them because there was a famine in Judah. Yet you think Naomi should have remained in a barren land to fight for what was hers? What exactly was hers? And what would she have been fighting for?”
Lily and Nathanael smiled to themselves and fought the urge to look at Beth.
“I just know that moving away does not win any victories,” Beth exclaimed.
Looking up from his Bible, Tim asked, “Do others have thoughts about this? Would Naomi, as Beth suggested, have been better off to remain and, as she said, fight?”
Nathanael sipped his coffee as if pleased with the class’s silent response. Lily stared at the empty seat between Nathanael and her; she wished it were not there.
“Tim, I know I’m a guest, but I see something here.” It was Alice.
“Yes, what is it, Alice?”
“It reminds me of a book I read recently about hearing from God.”
“Can you explain? I’m not sure I follow you.”
“Naomi was learning that hearing from God involves trusting his nature, especially when tragedy strikes.”
“That is excellent, Alice. Can you continue?”
“Naomi and her family were desperate. They left looking to God to provide for them. She was doing what any reasonable believer should do—go. Go, but go trusting God.
“And as she went, more tragedy struck. The men in her life died and she was now more destitute. But she was about to hear from God, even through the tragedies, right?”
“It is as you say, Alice. Thank you for that,” Tim said.
Lily pictured the unread book about hearing from God on her kitchen table and burned in shame.
(To be continued)