Ruth, Tears, and Alien Corn

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Book of Ruth. ¬†Laura and I read it to each other last night through the inevitable tears that spring from me when I contemplate the story of family devotion and divine providence. ¬† This book is also an inspiration for some of my favorite lines of poetry, found in the latter verse of John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale (text of poem):

The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

I think often of Keats’ image of Ruth when I think of the journeys to foreign lands that my parents — and I — have made, when we too have been “sick for home, … [standing] in tears amid the alien corn.”