The sun rose upon fields full of ripe wheat and barley in the cool early morning. The pastoral scene took Ruth's breath away as she approached Bethlehem with Naomi leaning heavily on her shoulder. She saw the workers with their scythe blades flashing on their way to harvest, smelled the fresh aroma of the grain as it was bundled and carried away to the threshing floor. Both men and women were out laboring in the fields, Ruth noted as her stomach rumbled with hunger, each filling their assigned roles in the harvest. Such bounty! Ruth had never seen such abundance in her whole life!
And then she heard it--one man calling out a greeting "The Lord be with you!" and a multitude of voices responding "The Lord bless you!" in a distant field. Her eyes searched where the greetings had come from, but she couldn't tell. As soon as they entered the town and settled, Ruth planned to be out here the next morning. Maybe there was something she could do to support herself and Naomi. She wanted to be in that field where the blessing was.
Naomi had been quiet the whole journey back to her home. Ruth had hoped that she would begin to cheer up as they got closer, but Naomi seemed to regress even further. Maybe when she saw her old friends and family? She talked so much about them before the disaster in Moab struck, Ruth felt she knew some of them already.
Ruth suddenly felt conscious of her appearence. She had worn her good brilliantly colored robe under her plain outer garments and cloak, she wondered if she should make herself more presentable. In a pocket, she had some perfume that she hoped to wear at her own wedding some day, if God willed it. Instead of adjusting her appearence, she decided to pull her head covering more tightly over her head and face. It was Naomi's reunion, and she decided it was best she not attract any attention to herself. It was not her time for introductions, but probably a good time to observe the new culture that she was going to learn to live in. In fact, it was probably best to be quiet and blend in as much as possible.
At the outskirts of the town, Naomi pulled away from Ruth and straightened her back. She was more weary than she let on. Naomi walked ahead and Ruth followed a short distance behind her. As they rounded the bend into the main street, Ruth felt all eyes on them as they entered the main square. A crowd gathered around them as she heard some of the women ask each other if this was Naomi. Naomi turned to them, and said her first words since they left Moab.
"Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?"
Silence fell over the whole crowd and no one moved. Tears welled up in Ruth's eyes. She had no idea how deep Naomi's pain and anger had grown. It had grown very deep indeed. Ruth wanted to reach out and tell Naomi to take heart, but she kept her words to herself. The two women passed through the quiet crowd, towards a vacant dwelling place that Naomi somehow knew of and collapsed into a deep sleep without refreshing themselves after their long journey.
But Ruth's heart was full. Thank you, Lord, for bringing me to Your people. Thank you for bringing something good out of the bad.