Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Whither thou goest..."

"Whither thou goest
I will go
And where thou lodgest
There will I lodge
Thy people will be my people now
And thy God will be my God…"
- Ruth

I love this song.  I have heard it sung at weddings…and a memorial service.  I have always associated it with the willingness to leave all that is familiar and follow a loved one wherever their inner sense of mission and purpose leads them.  My office comes with me wherever I go.  My laptop, cell phone, a dog-eared Bible and a well-loved (and scribbled in) copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures…all tucked neatly into a sea-worthy canvas tote…and I am ready to set up shop in the nearest coffeehouse, park bench or boulder.

There has always been something deliciously promising about knowing that I could go anywhere and still be "in the office".  But there has also been something insidiously taunting about it too.  The suggestion "You could do this anywhere…so where do you want to be?" pokes at me in the middle of the night, in the middle of traffic, and from the middle of the Midwest.  This has been a gift and a burden…all at once.  It has often left me feeling trapped in places that aren't my first choice geographically.  It has allowed me to indulge in thinking that distracts me from "blooming where I am planted," and has permitted an indulgence in "what if" thinking, rather than "what is" living. "You know how to move, how about one more for the gipper," it whispers, "perhaps this time will be the last."

When the girls were little it was easy to imagine picking them up and carrying them away to a coastal village in Maine, or a cabin in the heart of the Rockies.  I would work, they would play, we would home-school, and my husband would do whatever it was that he had always dreamed of doing…something that would, of course, have a lovely place as its setting since when you dream you get to choose…and who would
choose something that isn't lovely. 

The choosers, the deciders in my best-case scenario would either be my husband…or me.  Right? And of course, we would have talked and would have the same geographical sensibilities and therefore whatever we chose would be lovely and consistent with any of my dream locations.

Enter children…and this is where a heart can surrender to divine will on a dime.  Like in the story of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, the dynamics of family...of mothers and fathers and children...find us yielding our dreams and wishes to what is best for others.  When we love one another, we listen, we don't impose our sensibilities on others, but care enough to learn what is lovely to them.   Our children have a whole different criteria for lovely.  One that, I think, is more in line spiritually, with living as a verb.  Our daughters love their activities…they love the give and take of friendships nurtured through years of laughter and playground problem-solving, they love riding their bikes on familiar roads and greeting an opposing team each new soccer season with renewed hopes of "this year...". 

Our ten-year old twins don't care if there is a 14,000 foot mountain in their backyard or a New England harbor at the end of their block, they only care about loving their friends, hugging their parents, laughing at the ridiculous, embracing the eternal facts about God and his universe, and knowing that home is a place within their hearts...that no one can take away.  They long for certainty...the assurance that they have a purpose in life that is worthy and appreciated.  They want their company to be enjoyed and their hearts to be heard.  They want to BE who they are and DO what they love and know is right.  They live as verbs, not waiting for the right person or place to BE and DO
with or in, but living, learning, doing, loving, playing, praying…ing-ing wherever they have been planted.

So, we will follow them, we will lodge where they lodge, we will serve where they serve, their people will be our people, and their God (the one who is a verb) will be our God.   And even though we have five children...all of whom we love dearly and at different times, and in different seasons may follow and lodge near...these are the ones still little enough to be needing us day to day.  I am so grateful for the daily reminder, through Eddy's Daily Prayer (see below) that God omnipotently safeguards and governs us
all through His reign of Love in our hearts.  He alone holds the reins on our affections and guides us through life's labyrinth with Love...always with love. 

I think I get it this time.  Thank you God for your patience...and persistence...with me.

"Intreat me not to leave you
or return from following after you
for whither thou goest
I will go
And thy God will be my God…"

If you would like to hear the melody to this song…just call, it is so beautiful and I can't find a recording of it online (and no, it is neither the Cohen or Como versions found on Youtube) to share with you.  I promise to sing softly…

The Daily Prayer
"Thy kingdom come;"
let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love
be established in my,
and rule out of me all sin;
and may Thy Word enrich the affections
of all mankind, and govern them!
-Mary Baker Eddy


  1. oh my.

    this one has inspired me to write down all that I love about my sons.

    once again, beautiful, blessed writing. I love it!

    I think you should write more and then publish it, and give it to the world............. ;)

  2. Anonymous1:52 PM

    This is probably completely "random" coming from one just passing through on a different google search but... did you realise you inadvertently misquoted the Ruth scripture? What Ruth was actually stating was that she was willing to transfer and come under the administration of Naomi's state government. In those days Israel was ruled by a system of regional magistrates and everybody had to be registered in their local state. Each region/state was responsible for the care of its registered homeless, poor, widows etc (Ruth) and you had to notify the local authorities if you intended to shift into another district so your details could be transferred to the next administration who would then assume responsibility. Its quite clear from reading the account of Ruth in toto that Ruth of the Plains followed and was subject at all times to the federal law of the land as a resident natural born Israelite citizen and never at any time was treated in law as an immigrant. The contemporary religious world of today has completely subverted the scriptures including redefining Ruth to align with its private agenda of reinventing a god of their making.

  3. Dear Anon...

    I was not quoting from Ruth (in the Bible) but from a song about that Ruth/Naomi story that I love...called "The Song of Ruth" a folksong that my friend Lisa Redfern has sung at quite a number of weddings. I love that you have shared some historical context for readers...thank you, k.