A Restorer of Life
The women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age.” – Ruth 4:14-15a (NRSV)
Five verses into the Book of Ruth, her mother-in-law Naomi has lost her husband and two sons. By verse 14, Naomi’s daughter-in-law Orpah has turned back to her own home. Only Ruth, the other daughter-in-law, herself a widow, accompanies Naomi as she makes her way back to Bethlehem. If ever there was someone who walked the valley of death, it was Naomi.
By the book’s end, Naomi’s journey has taken a different direction. Ruth marries Naomi’s kinsman, Boaz, and bears a son. The village women rejoice with old Naomi and proclaim that the baby “shall be to you a restorer of life.”
You probably know a few such “restorers of life.” For me, one is Augustus Vaughn Stone, new infant son of my nephew and his wife. They live far away, so I’ve yet to meet him in the flesh, but his proud papa sends regular photos. After 19 months of pandemic shut-downs, insurrections, and racial killings, young Augustus’ bright eyes and Yoda face restore my life—and hope—on a regular basis. So do the pictures of my nephew looking happier than ever before.
Restorers of life come in all ages, sizes, and colors. Sometimes they are part of our lives for many years, sometimes only for a moment when their smile or word of encouragement blesses and brings us back to life. In this season of Thanksgiving, may we remember and give thanks for such restorers in our lives.
Giver of Life, thank you for all who have restored our lives. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.