Of Giving Refuge
Thursday, June 8, 2023
What Appears To Be Peaceful, May Turn Against Us, Without Warning, Leaving Us at the Mercy of Others. As Others Are Now Needing Refuge With Us.
May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!’
So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near …
Words of Grace For Today
Julius sat with three others from the community to brainstorm what they should do next. It was not a simple decision. The hunting camp was overrun and people were irritable after weeks in such limited quarters, many with very little to do, but wait.
The news came back from the crews working to create sluice gates at 4 dams. Three were completed, beginning with the nearest one. A flood of water had been released from each in turn. The waters had flooded part of their community, mostly land used to grow food on. A few homes were flooded, but they still stood and could be cleaned up and rebuilt as needed. The peak flood waters were still to come, but the lower two dams were nearly empty, so the flood that reached their community should be small. They would be done with the last sluice gate in another week or two. It was the most difficult to build. That was the good news.
The bad news was three workers were badly injured when a tree in the water had smashed into them as they worked on the third sluice gate. They needed transport back to the hunting camp. Their injuries were not life threatening, mostly broken bones in their legs and arms. One had lost a hand when it was completely smashed. Their healer, one of Julius’ students, had taken care of them. So six strong people volunteered to go and bring them back on stretchers made from branches and strong blankets of deer hides.
The really bad news was that Amos had been killed when a tree top broke off as they were cutting down the tree. Everyone ran for cover while Amos stayed in place making the last cut so the tree itself would fall away from everyone else.
The fire situation looked a bit better as rain had fallen in most of the area, but only for a few hours. They still needed days of rain to bring the forests from their winter and spring dry state to the growing green of summer.
With the the threat of terrible flooding removed, though, their community was likely as safe as anywhere. The flood waters that had come would have brought moisture to the area, also lessening the threat of a fire burning the community down. The real threat was still smoke. So far in the hunting camp the smoke had not been terrible except for a few days. Runners to the community each day reported that the smoke had been terrible there for most of the time they’d been away, though now it was tolerable.
Should they return home? Or was it safer to stay in the hunting camp? That was the decision to be made. The three people with Julius, usually some of the most level headed in the community, were anxious. They spoke on top of each other, hardly listening to each other as they expressed their fears. Together they excited each other closer and closer to a panic.
One of the New Iblers had stood waiting to talk to Julius, but as the fear mounted among the three, she stepped forward and asked Julius if she might speak. He nodded.
Troyen began, “Today we read a short passage from the story of Ruth. She was a widow, who followed her mother-in-law, Naomi (also a widow), from Ruth’s homeland, Moab, back to Judah, Naomi’s homeland. Being a widow left women in that day in great difficulty, at the whim and mercy of a male relative. But Naomi had lost her husband and her two sons. Naomi had no male relatives in Moab, she was getting on in years, and she had been away from Judah for more than a decade. On her own she certainly would have died, but Ruth had chosen to stay by her side through the difficult journey and when they arrived. Ruth was out scavenging grain behind those harvesting it, when Boaz, the owner of the field, asked who she was. The owner was a relative of Elimelech’s, Naomi’s deceased husband. Being told that the young woman gleaning behind his people was Elimelech and Naomi’s daughter-in-law, who had returned with and cared for Naomi, he ordered his people to allow her to glean with them, even to leave sheaves for her, and to protect her.
“By chance, and by God’s blessings, Ruth and Naomi, were provided for and provided protection by a wealthy male relative. So it will be with us. God will provide for us and protect us. We need not fear anything, as long as we are wise, careful, and generous with each other.
“We also read that God brings peace to those near and far. So it is for us, for those here and those working on the dams, as well as all those in this area. We are blessed that the threat of floods is diminished. We are blessed that the rains have started. It helps when we remember God’s blessings, especially when we have difficult decisions to make.
“Perhaps it would help if I offered, what I came to say to Julius. A young man, who had sought refuge with us after his family was killed in a fire, arrived yesterday. He has made it his work to learn everything about fire and fire protection. He described a plan for protecting your community from wildfire. It could also include a channel to divert some water from the river around the community, as a moat as part of a fire break. That might be helpful in redirecting flood waters in the future.
“We would be willing to help build this and the other measures he described to us, if we could seek refuge in your community. As we build our own homes, we would help protect your whole community from both fire and flood.”
One of the three found a calm voice, “This is most welcome. The only reason not to return now is the smoke. It is too dangerous for the children and the elderly people.”
Troyen responded, “Two people in our community have devised a mask made of reeds and grasses that helps filter out the smoke. They have made more than enough for our elderly and they could make enough for everyone. The masks do not filter out all the smoke but they have helped our elderly breath easy even when the smoke was terrible here.”
Julius looked at each of the three. Each nodded. So he spoke for them all, “We welcome you into our community as full members, then, all of you. You are no longer refugees here. We accept your offers of fire protection, flood risk reduction, and masks for smoke. You are God’s blessings for us all. I would like to speak with this young man who knows much about fire protection. We can make a plan that the whole community can help with, and we might have ideas that we can share with other communities to use to help keep their communities safe as well. All that we have, we have so that we can share with others.”