Many years ago, I was commissioned to paint the Old Testament account of Ruth and Naomi. When I begin any painting, I research, pray and fast. Three years later I was blessed with the concept for Whither Thou Goest.
Ruth and Naomi faced overwhelming challenges, which become deeply emblematic of our own challenges. Indeed, as we read in the scriptures, the blessing of deliverance came through a closeness and sensitivity to Deity, an acquaintanceship with God, a sanctified strength that can only come through pain and suffering, and acknowledging and confessing our weaknesses. (Ether 12:27)
I found the imagery of the journey to Bethlehem deeply symbolic of the journey each of us takes during our mortal sojourn. Ruth, in the extremity of their adversity, reaches up and covers them both with her cloak, just as Christ’s enabling power blankets each of us. In Aramaic the word atone means “to cover.” Lehi rejoiced that “The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15). I am grateful for that grace and the enabling power associated with change and renewal.
Thus the story of Ruth is a beautiful parable of the Atonement.