Nalini Jayasuriya was a Christian artist born in Sri Lanka. Believing that people “need protection from fear and a hope for blessing,”* she painted biblical life stories in ways that focus on the wonderful moments within each story that create hope.
In the book of Ruth, we read the story of the death of Naomi’s husband and sons. With no male heirs, the future looked bleak for Naomi and her daughters-in-law, so Naomi encouraged the young women to return to their homeland where they could remarry. Jayasuriya’s painting focuses on Ruth 4:13-17, where Ruth gives her son to Naomi — a gift of hope for their future and for ours.
In the center, Naomi and Ruth gently cradle a white dove. Swirls of red and blue surround the dove in a protective womb-like shield. Golden reddish-browns spread out from the dove, breaking through the edges of the painting. Feet extending from her dress, Naomi looks up and beyond Ruth’s face, perhaps envisioning the promise of her new future. Ruth kneels before Naomi, gazing at the beautiful white dove cradled in their hands. In art a bird often symbolizes hope. In this story, it represents the gift of Obed — an ancestor of Jesus.
Ruth and Naomi each offer a gift to the other with their open hands. Naomi offers Ruth freedom. Ruth cradles the dove and presents it to Naomi as a gift of hope. The dove sits freely within their embrace. This act of love and promise between Ruth and Naomi secures their future and the gift of hope for all Christians through the birth of Jesus.
*A Time for My Singing: Witness of a Life, OMSC Publications, 2004
Cover image courtesy of OMSC. © Nalini Marcia Jayasuriya and OMSC, New Haven, CT. No prints of cover art available from Upper Room Ministries®.
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