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Hymn To A Good Wife

Today we celebrated the life of a dear woman in our church.  B was so lovely, and always a delight to see.  I'm pretty sure she may have been one of the first few, if not the first altogether, to ask me way back when if I had a calling to the ordained ministry.  She was so glad to hear at our last visit that I wasmoving toward seminary.  I knew her battle with breast cancer had been a long one, but I hadn't realized it had stretched over 21 years!  Hers was a courageous campaign, and if you can say someone lived with cancer, B certainly did.  Her daughter afforded her the most beautiful tribute and more and more stories spilled forth to reveal the wisdom and compassion of this wonderful woman.  When I embraced her husband before the service, I said "She was a truly lovely woman, and you were an extremely lucky man".  He replied through tears, "Don't I know!". 

The first reading came from Proverbs, Chapter 31: v10-28.  At Grace, we use the New Revised Standard version, and it is lovely, but I'm posting the same from Eugene Peterson's The Message.  

Hymn to a Good Wife
A good woman is hard to find,
   and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
   and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
   all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
   and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
   and brings back exotic surprises.
She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast
   for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
   then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
   rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
   is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
   diligent in homemaking.
She's quick to assist anyone in need,
   reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn't worry about her family when it snows;
   their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
   and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
   when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
   brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
   and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
   and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
   and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
   her husband joins in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things,
   but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
   The woman to be admired and praised
   is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
   Festoon her life with praises!
I turned to our young priest and admitted I'd never heard this passage before.  He gave me a quizzical look - "I can't believe that; you know your bible".  Gulp!  Obviously not, but isn't that what seminary is for?  Anyway, I used to read from The Bible in a Year which would offer readings from the OT, Psalms, Proverbs and NT each day, but I couldn't recall this from any previous study.  I understand that feminist criticism or liberation theology may have taken some whacks at this, and come away saying it has both its good points and its not-so-good points.  But it seemed entirely perfect and right for our friend B today.

I myself know that Good Wife.  Don't I know!  I am so blessed to have one in my own life.  Thank God for that!