I've been thinking a lot about the Book of Ruth lately.
Part of it is that we sing a version of Ruth's words to Naomi at church most weekends (and let me tell you, for a hymn it's an earworm). Part of it is that I remind myself of Ruth's words to Naomi when I think about David. There are probably a lot more "part of its" that I'm not ready to talk about.
But almost daily I find myself musing over Ruth's words. "Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God"
* * *
I am spiritually exhausted, y'all.
I don't know how else to talk about it. I am convinced that the world is going straight down the toilet. I expect the world to devolve into a Parable-of-the-Sower-dying-gasps-of-Capitalism hellscape in the next ten years. I know that aforementioned capitalism is grinding us all into pulp and that we cannot bring ourselves to imagine that there might be something else so there won't be. Inflation is making our already tight budget even tighter. I worry about climate change Every Single Day. I spend my life talking about how to provide healthcare to the homeless, jobs to the jobless, and basic human dignity to everyone and nothing has gotten any better and in many cases things have gotten worse.
I was talking to my beloved last week about some of my more extreme end-times views a few weeks ago. How I'm teaching myself to identify medicinal and edible plants. My desire to learn to use a firearm. My almost fanatical obsession with water conservation that I can't impact (I'm looking at you, Western United States).
"I know, babe. I feel the same way."
"I am so tired," is all I can reply.
* * *
I'm on the Amtrak back to Milwaukee.
It's about a week before Christmas and I'm going to spend some time with my family. But I'm feeling a little . . . I'm not sure. I've left my beloved back at our apartment (he can't get the time off work) and the holidays don't feel like the holidays without him.
So I've tuned into the livestream of the Unitarian Universalist church we've been attending for the last month.
I love UU Church.
I'm a little embarrassed by how much I love UU Church. I'm embarrassed by how quickly this community has found its way into my heart. I'm embarrassed by how much I look forward to services. I'm embarrassed by how much I need this place.
This week, it's the sermon that gets me. My favorite minister is preaching and his words have managed to grab me more than once. Today he tells us "Everyone needs more than anyone has to give right now, but also, no one can fill those of your needs that you won't let show. I believe that asking each other for help is self love and answering honestly is self love and giving what we can is community love."
I embarrass myself by crying on the train.
* * *
I want to have a heart like Ruth's.
I don't want to feel like I have it alone.
Let me explain.
I am tired of being spiritually exhausted. All of the problems that exhaust me are too big for me to handle on my own. Truly, they are too big for even a dedicated community to have much of an impact on. But I don't have the money to run away from climate change and crime and desperation and even if I did I do not know that I would. Community love is the only way I can see out.
Everyone needs more than anyone has to give right now.
I am trying to have a heart like Ruth's.
Instead of telling people that I don't have the spoons or the time or the interest, I am going to start asking how I can help them carry what they have to carry. I am going to remind myself that time alone in the woods is a spiritual practice and so is running an errand for our elderly neighbor and so is speaking truth to friends (and power). I am going to try to draw our family circle so wide that no one feels left out.
I am going to have a heart like Ruth's.
In the words of that favorite pastor: let it be so, and amen.