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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During the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. A man with his wife and two sons went from Bethlehem of Judah to dwell in the territory of Moab. The name of that man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the territory of Moab and settled there.

But Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died. Then only she was left, along with her two sons. They took wives for themselves, Moabite women; the name of the first was Orpah and the name of the second was Ruth. And they lived there for about ten years.

But both of the sons, Mahlon and Chilion, also died. Only the woman was left, without her two children and without her husband.

Then she arose along with her daughters-in-law to return from the field of Moab, because while in the territory of Moab she had heard that the Lord had paid attention to his people by providing food for them.

Ruth 1:1-6

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It is hard for us to imagine having to uproot our families and move to a new land in order to find food and safety. Even more difficult is the thought of losing that family, just when it feels like things are returning to normal.

I can’t help but compare Naomi’s situation with the stories of women in my own family. Both of my grandmothers, women born in the Appalachian Mountains during the Great Depression, are two of the strongest people I’ve ever met. I think of the sacrifices they made in their lives, like those of Naomi, in which they put the needs of their family before their own. They’re women of strong faith who, despite never making national or local headlines, have made numerous impacts on their communities. Long after their physical presence has left the Earth, the love that they shared with family and friends will be the inheritance that they will pass on to me, and one day I hope to pass on to my descendants.

Will Oxford

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God, you have surrounded me with a great cloud of witnesses. They help me navigate this life as pictures of what your love should truly look like. 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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