Last week we read the first chapter of Ruth, which set up the story of these two women— Naomi, the Israelite and Ruth, the Moabite— traveling together to Bethlehem to start a new life. Their husbands have died, they are not allowed in their time and culture to own land or to hold a job, so they are in crisis. And as if that wasn’t enough, Naomi, in her grief, dives into a deep depression, telling everyone that she is changing her name from Naomi, which means sweet, to Mara, which means bitter. She is done. She is in a mental health crisis as well as a crisis of every other kind.
But the first chapter ends with one line of hope, and that is that Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. There is food growing— and not just growing, but ready to be harvested— and so we were left with just a bit of hope as Ruth chooses to stick with her mother-in-law and go to a new land in order to care for her.