Ruth 1:16-17 (CEB)
16But Ruth said,
“Do not urge me to leave you,
to turn back from following you.
Wherever you go, I will go;
and wherever you stay, I will stay.
Your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
17Wherever you die, I will die,
and there I will be buried.
May the Lord do this to me
and more so,
if even death separates me from you!”
Just over 13 years ago these beautiful words from scripture were read at my wedding. I have always loved the book of Ruth, and yes one reason is because I was named for her, but, primarily I love it because Ruth took her destiny into her own hands and made a place for herself among strangers. Like the biblical Ruth my own life has been one of making my place in strange places and with strangers all around me. My wedding was just one of the many steps along my journey to find the face of God.
Now I really don’t want this rambling to be about John and me rather I want to tell you the best part of my marriage, our grandchildren. Ok, so they are John’s grandchildren not mine, but the youngest ones have known only me as Grammy Ruth and I love them and their parents as much as if they were my blood relations. And, I have watched with great joy as the two older ones Granddaughter S and Grandson A grow into loving adults.
Recently John, me and our little Chihuahua Suzie spent a joyous week in Boston with John’s son M and daughter-in-law LB and the littlest grandchildren, Grandson L and Granddaughter A. John’s birthday is January 17th and he shares it with L who turned 7 this year, so for the first time they decided to celebrate their birthdays together. Watching L as he opened gifts, as he gently held our little dog Suzie, and talked excitedly about everything was a pleasure all its own. Holding little A and reading a story to her, playing games, watching as she and her brother played, and squabbled, and listening to giggles, laughter and tears put me in a place of bliss that I can’t really describe to you.
I watched as M and LB did a ballet of sorts as they prepared breakfast and got the kids ready for school. As I listened I realized just how much M and John sound alike and how much grandson L is growing into a young man so like his father and grandfather. Granddaughter A has inherited her mother’s artistic talents which she combines with her father’s and Papa John’s determination to succeed and do it well. Even though she is only 4½ she is determined to dance and draw her life in her own way.
I said my journey was to find the face of God and I do, in all of creation including people. The most important Faces of God I see is when I look at John early in the morning just before rising, in the faces of M and LB when I spot them waiting for us to come from the plane. I see God’s face in the sleeping, laughing, crying, and determined faces of Grandson L and Granddaughter A. I hear God laugh and giggle when Granddaughter A dances and runs in play. I hear God’s voice when I listen to LB and John talk in the kitchen doing clean up from dinner. I hear God’s voice as Grandson L talks with so much certainty about how something works in his 7 year old world and see God at work as he figures out how to build a new structure of some sort.
This is the wedding gift that never stops giving. I have found a place here in the midst of strangers. I have found people I love. After much searching I have found where I belong. I have been welcomed and accepted as family and been blessed with the love from John’s 3 sons and 4 grandchildren. I have watched the two oldest grow into strong adults where a future of unknown adventures lies before them. I have held in my arms Grandson L and Granddaughter A as newborns and offered my blessings and prayers for God to watch over them.
I have watched each of the grandchildren grow into people I want know. All of them are young people who question everything and when no one can give them an answer they go in search for it. Even if Grandson L and Granddaughter A might not believe in a Divine force, they know they have a Grammy who sees that Divine force whenever she looks into their eyes. It is in the question of why does Grammy believes what she does that opens a door to their own journey of discovery of who they are and where they fit in.
My blessed babies, who are babies no longer, have begun their own journeys. Someday they too will say “wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay.” That day lies long in the future but time passes quickly and before you know it they will be searching for what they believe. My prayer for all four of the Grandchildren is they find what feeds their souls with love, compassion, mercy and a passion for justice. I pray they build a life that gives more than it takes, a life open to the blessings of God whether they call Her God or not.
Ruth Jewell, ©January 25, 2014