“So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men.” Genesis 24:59
“Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse died and was buried under the oak below Bethel. So it was named Allon Bacuth (oak of weeping).” Genesis 35:8
I was quite excited on the first full day of the Via de Cristo weekend I attended many years ago, to be assigned to sit at the table of Deborah. After all, everyone has heard of Deborah, right? Deborah, the judge; Deborah, the warrior; Deborah, the woman who was famous as a leader in a patriarchal society. What a role model! Who wouldn’t be honored to sit at a table named after her?
But my bubble burst when I read the card on the center of the table closely. I discovered that I was not sitting at the table of Deborah the Judge–I was sitting at the table of Deborah the nursemaid. You probably don’t know who she is — I sure didn’t. She is only mentioned twice in the Bible (see the verses above), and only once by name. Frankly, I was disappointed. I resolved that secretly, I would continue to think of my table as the table of the “famous” Deborah.
In the years since that weekend retreat, I’ve come to rethink that position. I’ve read the two references to “my” Deborah and what comes between them. Do you realize that Deborah served Rebekah and her family for over eighty years? She must have been greatly loved and greatly mourned for her death to be noted at all. She was buried with honor under a venerable oak, symbol of long life.
If I am honest, I must admit that I’m a lot more like Deborah the nursemaid than Deborah the judge–in fact most of us are. We may not be the star of the story, but we can be humble, faithful servants to the people around us.