But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
If, as Bishop Desmond Tutu says, “A person is a person through other persons,” then we can imagine ourselves as mosaics, colorful works of art given depth and brightness by the gleaming shards of the people we’ve met and been transformed by. In short, our capacity for resilience is shaped by the relationships we choose build. When Ruth’s husband dies and she finds herself a destitute and culturally marginalized widow, she invests in the most important (hopeful, mentoring, generous) relationship in her life. That hopeful, mentoring, generous relationship is with her mother-in-law Naomi, who happens to be a woman from a foreign country and religion. Ruth commits to that relationship, telling Naomi that no matter where they go, there is hope in their choosing to go together. Ruth prioritizes resilience through her relationship with Naomi and Naomi, in her grief, also is able to recommit to resilience. Ruth becomes an anchor for Naomi to (slowly, slowly, slowly) begin to see new possibilities for her life. Ruth and Naomi become compasses for each other, each one pointing the other in the direction of healing and hopefulness, and their friendships multiply outward in their new home, where they quickly build new, nourishing relationships. The best friendships work this way, guiding us through unnamable grief, drawing us toward love and community and a sense of belonging.
Takeaway: Think of the people who bring you to your most loved, most hopeful, most nurtured self–your compasses. The ones you’d consider moving for. The relationships that, built on a healthy foundation, allow you to grow and stabilize during seasons of upheaval. Touch base with one of your compass relationships today. No agenda needed, just a quick conversation to remind yourself who you are at your most loved.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).