Sunday Psalms: Fictional Narratives Inspired by the Psalms, Proverbs, & Other Biblical Works
∼The Refugee∼ Part 5: The Wife Concludes
It was strange, the air — heavy and thick in my chest — and I struggled to breathe. As my daughter-in-law and I drove off, I tried very hard not to think about the men I had buried in Mexico’s soil. If I dwelt on what I was leaving behind I would never survive where I was going.
I don’t really know how long it took us to reach Wyoming. Without my men, time didn’t seem to matter. Each day was just another extension of hopeless eternity.
We drove for days, passing through California and Nevada. Sometimes I slept, but most of the time I was remembering, desperately wishing that Eli was here. The only source of joy was my daughter-in-law whom I let do all of the driving. She was so attentive as we passed through state after state, her curiosity was refreshing. Seeing her experience my country like this endeared her to me all the more.
“I should warn you. Folks in my hometown aren’t always welcoming to outsiders. Don’t be surprised if it takes them a while to warm up to you. And they won’t say your name correctly either. They’ll call you Ruth,” I explained, exaggerating the “th” sound. She nodded and assured me that she understood.
The car only broke down once when we reached Utah. We had to spend a precious amount to get it fixed, but what choice did we have? We’d come this far already. When we crossed into Wyoming, I insisted we pull over so I could stretch my legs. I hadn’t touched Wyoming land in so long that I needed to feel the earth beneath my feet.
It was late on a Saturday afternoon when we finally rolled into my old town. The general store was still there, standing just as ordinary as when I had left years ago. Stepping inside was like being reunited with an old friend.
“Nomy? Well, it can’t be. Why, you were practically a girl when you left town, and look at you now. So mature.” Martha Rogers runs the general store and has always managed to find a way of insulting me. I never liked her. “Why didn’t you tell anybody you were coming?” she asked as she rang up my meager supplies. “We could have thrown you a homecoming party.”
“My sister knows. She’s not one to go spreading news about. And I’m afraid I’m not up to celebrating these days,” I replied as I counted out the money.
“Yes, I heard about Eli and the boys. Awful shame,” Martha said and popped open the cash register. “What are you going to do?”
“We’ll stay at Sarah’s until we can get on our feet. Need to find work for me and my daughter-in-law,” I said as Martha peeked out the window for a glimpse of Rut. “Know anybody who might be hiring?”
“As a matter of fact, I do. You know that cousin of Eli’s who bought your farm? Bo Salmon? Still a bachelor after all these years. Can you believe it? Anyway, he’s always bringing on immigrants to help out on his property. I hear he always needs help. I bet he’d take on your girl.”
I remembered my husband’s cousin, and while I had resented him for buying our farm, I knew it wasn’t his fault. It was the land that had betrayed us. Maybe he would let my daughter-in-law come work for him. And maybe one day, when we had saved enough money, he would let me buy the farm back, just as he had promised Eli.
For a woman who’s not comfortable with change, things have developed rather quickly since my return. We had barely arrived when Rut was off the next morning to find work in Bo Salmon’s field. I would have been happy if she had come home with enough to buy food for the table, but when she came home with a pocket full of money, I could barely contain my excitement.
“You’re sure it wasn’t a mistake?” I had questioned her, nervous to ask.
“No, no mistake. He is very nice to me. He says I can work everyday. Says to tell you he is very sorry about Eli and he sends you, how do you say it — sentimiento?”
I nodded my understanding and went to bed that night hoping it was true.
Several weeks later, my concerns were more than alleviated. Within a few weeks of working in his fields, the whole town could see that my daughter-in-law had caught the eye of the bachelor himself.
“Nomy, are you sure about this? After all, she’s not been a widow for very long. It seems a mite inappropriate.” When he had arrived at the local dance with Rut on his arm, the ladies of the town had shook their heads. None of their daughters had successfully attracted the attention of the eligible Mr. Salmon, and she being an outsider was causing tongues to wag. Martha and the sewing circle had made it their mission to thoroughly investigate the situation.
“Ladies, I don’t think it’s any of your business what Mr. Salmon does or does not do. And if my daughter-in-law wants to marry him, I’m all for it. There’s been too much sadness in our lives. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m tired of it.” My knitting needs clicked in agreement.
“But Nomy, she’s a foreigner,” Martha said, feeling it her duty to remind everyone of this detail.
“And what of it?” I snapped at them. “I was too, once. Eli and I went to Mexico as outsiders. We made a good life there. Rather than criticizing her, you should be thanking the Lord for that girl. Goodness knows what would have happened to me if it wasn’t for her.”
The remainder of our sewing session was rather quiet, but by the time we gathered next, we were busy making plans for a community wedding. All of us except Martha Rogers.
It’s been six months since the wedding, and if the gift of a new son wasn’t enough, Bo Salmon has done more than I could have imagined. As a wedding present to his wife, he has given me back my home. The farmhouse I left so long ago is mine again. Bo has men who still work the land and do the chores, while I am free to live in the house and tend to my own garden for as long as I desire. When I’m too old to be on my own, Bo and Rut will let me come live with them. This is more than I had hoped for.
“Mamá, I’m pregnant.” I was busy cooking over my old stove when Rut came rushing in. She had a smile so big I was certain her cheeks were going to explode.
“I think it’s a boy,” I whispered as I hugged her tightly. I’ve always had a sense about these things. When Rut told me her good news, something in my own heart came alive. It’s almost as if I’m having a baby. Today my lungs are free from sorrow. I have more joy than I thought would come again. Today I can breathe.
“Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 150:6
“Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.’ Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Ruth 4:14-17 (ESV)
-Question to Ponder: What is your attitude when it comes to immigrants and aliens in your community? What is God’s perspective?
-Song Recommendation: Beautiful Things by Gungor (available on Itunes)
-Support refugees in our world by visiting Mercy Corps.
Written by Heidi Sadler. Inspired by Ruth 4 and Psalm 150:6 © 2016, Heidi Sadler. All Rights Reserved.