In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

from Touched by an Angel by Maya Angelou

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Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth stayed with her. Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her gods. Turn back after your sister-in-law.”

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to abandon you, to turn back from following after you. Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do this to me and more so if even death separates me from you.” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her about it.

Ruth 1:14-18

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Instead of returning to her home country, Ruth physically clings to Naomi, pledging to begin a new life with her mother-in-law in Israel. What factors must have led to this emotionally-charged conversion? I’m sure Ruth must have been afraid of the idea of returning to Moab alone, being a completely different woman than she was before marrying her now dead husband. More importantly, I think this exchange speaks to the deep unconditional love Ruth had for Naomi.

“Portraits of Love” like this one are at the heart of our Christian faith. The stories of our tradition are about taking leaps of faith, not for our own gain, but because we have this baffling, indescribable, feeling of LOVE that resides within us all. Jesus showed us what this love looks like on the cross, Joseph showed it to Mary after the annunciation, and Ruth shows this love to Naomi and later to Boaz.

It is our job as Christians to carry this power within us, creating and sharing our own stories of God’s love.

Will Oxford

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God, I know that your love is the tie that binds us all together, keeping us united even when we feel so far apart. Continue to watch over us, your children, loving us unconditionally. Amen.

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Thérèse of Lisieux, a young French Carmelite nun of the 19th century, wrote:

"My vocation is love! In the heart of the Church, who is my Mother, I will be love. So I shall be everything and so my dreams will be fulfilled — ​to make Love loved."

May we be love. May our lives be portraits of love.

Will Oxford

Will Oxford currently lives in New Haven, Connecticut with his wife Heidi Thorsen and their two beautiful cats. As a native North Carolinian, Will spends much of his time yearning for sweet tea, mountains, and barbecue, and teaching folks the correct pronunciation of Appalachia.

It Is Well With My Soul

Jim McConnell

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