On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?"
After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Today, one of our readings in church was the story of Hannah. I'm quoting only part of it below:
This story is one that has deep personal meaning for me. When I was in my 20s, my deepest fear was that I would never have children. At the time, I feared childlessness because I was afraid I would never marry. My romantic history was not encouraging. As it turned out, I did marry someone wonderful when I was 31, . . . but it turned out that we were unable to have children.
However, when I was 25 and still years away from meeting my husband, I wrote a poem about Hannah and her distress about not having a child. At the time I wrote the poem, I was aware that it told only the misery at the beginning of the story. I completely left out the part of Hannah being blessed with a child later, and yet it felt that I had little choice. This was the poem that was given to me, either by my subconscious or by God, I don't know. I feared at the time that the poem might actually be a prophecy for my own life . . . and perhaps it was. Anyway, the Old Testament reading made me think of it again and I decided to post it here. There is deep part inside of me that will always feel this grief.
A tomblike cavern in my womb
where no seed grows save hunger.
I'm hollow there
where salt distilled from barren tears
coats lonely layers of time.
in a silent place
where no child calls
but the walled-in broadcast of my need
echoes off the stone.
for a woman who
in her emptiness gave all to you.
I fear I won't know what to do.