Read Ruth 1:6-18.
In a scene from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, Winnie and Piglet check on their friend Eeyore, who confesses to feeling “really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All.”* Eeyore says that to be near him would be a waste, that Winnie and Piglet should go on and enjoy themselves. But the two sit. Just sit. And, Milne writes, “Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.” Because Pooh and Piglet were “There. No more; no less.”
In this passage, we see a woman, desperate and hopeless. Naomi is mourning — she is Mara, bitter. She’s empty. We might even say that Naomi is “really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All.” But. Ruth gives her a gift that goes beyond words: her presence. For Naomi, Ruth commits to an unknown future among an unknown people worshipping an unknown God. To be “There. No more; no less.”
As we await the birth of our Savior, let us not hurry to the cross and the glory of the empty tomb. Let’s remember the gift that Christ gave us first, for thirty-three beautiful and difficult years. Jesus came down to Be. Simply be. To live and grow, speak and listen. To dwell among us. To give the gift that goes beyond words, that heals even hopelessness.
God, as we near the manger and prepare for your Arrival, we remember the gifts that You have given us, not only by healing and preaching, living and dying, but also by Being. As Ruth gave to Naomi, so You give to us the gift of Presence. Thank You.
* A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh (New York: E.P. Dutton, 2017).