During the holiday of Shavuot, which begins Saturday night, we read the Book of Ruth.
As I’ve mentioned in my blog a few times before, the Book of Ruth is one of my favorites. No matter how many times I read it, I find a new theme to contemplate. Last year I wrote about Ruth as an empowered woman. The year before I cheered on her values and behaviors. This year I’m onto a totally different train of thought…
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My children came home for a few days. It wasn’t a holiday, a birthday, or some other Hallmark event. They came to Atlanta to spend a few final nights (we move out in July) in the place they have called home for the past eighteen years. At first I thought the desired pilgrimage was odd. Then I was deeply moved. And then I began to wonder… what is so special about home?
Home. Leaving home. Coming home. Homesick. Home is where our story begins. Home is where your heart is. Home Sweet Home. Home is where they love you. There’s no place like home.
Okay. We all know there’s a difference between a house and a home. But it’s still not clear to me…what exactly is so special about home? Is it a feeling? Is it about familiar sights, smells, and sounds? Is it about memories of happy (or sad) days gone by? Does it have something to do with pieces of ourselves that we’ve left behind and want to recapture?
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Ruth left her own homeland to follow her mother-in-law back to hers. She left her own family and people to become part of Naomi’s. She decided to leave a home that she knew well, choosing instead to embrace a new foreign one. Ruth did all of this completely willingly and voluntarily. In Chapter 1 verses 16 and 17, Ruth even declares, “…where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.”
So, what do we make of these bold changes and statements?
In my opinion, something happened…something that went beyond the death of Ruth’s husband. Somehow home no longer felt like “home.” Deep within her, Ruth felt that she and her values had changed. She wanted something different. She knew she could not be the person she wanted to be – and live the life she wanted to live – unless she moved on. She had to go to a place that would redefine her concept of home; a place where her values and ideals would be understood and welcomed; a home with new neighbors and routines; and a new life that would enable Ruth to become the authentic self she yearned to be.
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My house will always be a home…no matter where it is located. It will reflect the “me” – the values and beliefs – that I hold dear and try to live by every day. My door is always open to those who choose to visit.
Kids, come home any time. Your new rooms will be waiting.