The foreman answered, “She is the Moabitess who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. She has said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the harvesters.’ So she came out and has continued from morning until now, except that she rested a short time in the shelter.”
Ruth traveled with her mother-in-law to a land she didn’t know. Leaving behind all things familiar to her, she cast in her lot with Naomi, who had lost her husband and sons—one of whom had been Ruth’s husband. Being a dutiful daughter-in-law, Ruth gleans from a field of harvesters just so she and Naomi would have enough to eat. She must have felt the indignity of gathering the scraps left behind by those who had been commissioned to gather the best of the crop. It must have been difficult to watch others enjoy their fullness while she had to make do with the leftovers. She had to spend the same amount of time in the field as everyone else, but because her job description was ‘gleaner’ and not ‘harvester,’ she was forever tied to the poverty that came with the position. I can imagine that while she labored in the heat of the day, her mind went back to a better time—a time of love, joy, plenty, hope, and dreams for the future. However, she couldn’t allow herself to reminisce for too long; those who must fight to survive have little time for daydreams.
Like Ruth, we are now living in a perilous time when things are not as plentiful as they used to be and convenience is almost a stretch of the imagination. How have you chosen to deal with this time? Are you angry because the checkbook doesn’t balance anymore? Are your dreams slipping away as a result of something that was no fault of your own? Are you mourning the unimaginable loss of a loved one?
Gratitude has two components. One element comes from the heart as a spontaneous feeling of joy that you feel when something good happens. However, gratitude has another side as well—the state of mind that decides that while we must mourn what has been lost, we must also appreciate what is still here. At times, our human nature may lament that we cannot celebrate the bounty of a harvester, but the maturity of choosing to be grateful gives rise to the ingenuity that it takes to put together a bounty one strand of barley at a time. The invisible treasure of gratitude can be found on the field of our broken hearts and dreams; its cords are able to weave back together the wounds of our despair and disappointment.
Ruth never thought that she would have to glean a field for food, but a new dream sprang forth on that same field. There, she forged a new path and discovered a new happiness. Through it all, she was grateful for the field; for without it, she could not have enjoyed a new life of fullness.