“We came into this life with nothing, and all we’re taking is a name.” (Brandi Carlile, “Fulton County Jane Doe.”)
Ruth’s story has been told for generations. As with any familiar story, it’s easy to gloss over the details on the way to the ending in a third or fourth read, but what a shame it would be to miss out on the richness of this text. Today, as I read this passage again, I am struck by the strong focus on “name” in the ceremony we witness. It made me wonder about the context in which this story takes place. Why wouldn’t Boaz just absorb Naomi and Ruth into his family, change their name and be done with it? It’s already quite a generous thing he’s doing in taking them in, so what’s in a name?
In Jewish culture, names hold great value, spiritually and personally. A child named after a respected loved one carries the spirit of that person with them through the course of their own lives. There are few things as important as a good name.
What names do you treasure from your family’s history? Whose spirit is carried on in you?
God of all knowing, as we live your love in our world, may your name be known. Amen. — AB