So I’ve been asked to write for a blog; an advent blog to be more specific. I’m not sure I’m the right girl for the job. I am embarrassed to admit this, but I’m not sure I’ve ever written a blog post before my life! Blurbs, articles, grant proposals, a zillion journal entries and a hundred zillion emails yes. But a blog??? (Of course, I think that’s a little of what Mary thought when the angel visited her, “Why me?”) So, they say sometimes the best way to write something is just to start.
I’ve been reading about Hannah, the Mom of Samuel the prophet. I had this heady idea that I might compare the waiting she had to do with Mary’s. But I’m attracted to Hannah, because she really struggled. You can find her story in the first two chapters of the First book of Samuel. We don’t know how many years it took, before she had Samuel, her first born. But we know she felt hugely less than, because her sister wife had so many sons and daughters and was treated with great bounty by their husband. And we know that the wife with the open womb was anything but gracious, especially at festival times when it was time to go up and sacrifice at the temple. We never hear Hannah try to fight back. And as I said, this went on for years. We don’t know how many. But then one year, there was a turning point for Hannah. We’re told that her husband “loved Hannah,” but still his treatment of the first wife was far more bounteous. But then we’re told that there came a time when her husband said to her at festival time, “Why are you sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” So, they ate together, and then for the first time in her story as we have it, we are told that “Hannah arose.” She went into the temple and she prayed in great distress and great energy and intensity; so much so that she attracted the notice of Eli, the old priest who sat in reverent watch at the Temple door. Whereas years of her story were told in a few sentences, now we have exquisite detail capturing a few moments. Eli “observed her mouth.” She did not strike him as a usual worshipper, beginning with the fact that she was a woman. He thought she was drunk; he chastised her and told her to leave. In one sense this was a far stronger provocation than her rival wife ever could have thrown at her. But she was so centered in and strengthened by her prayer that she was able to speak to this priest, no doubt many, many stations above her in the cultural hierarchy and tell him with both grace and absolute conviction that he was mistaken. And, he heard her! He did a complete turn about; he blessed her and asked that “the Lord grant you the petition you have made to him.” And, in due time, Samuel was born.
I love her, because yes she struggled, we don’t know for how many years. But at some point, she found her legitimacy. She claimed her wholeness; her right to stand up for herself, to go to the Temple and pray from the depths of her sincerity and passion. Having found her voice, she was able to “speak truth to power,” to coin a bit of a cliché, and Eli heard her and allowed himself to be corrected.
I wonder how long I take a circumstance or situation that hurts me and don’t respond in any way that might move me toward creative change. Maybe we all do some of this; and perhaps, if we allow ourselves to take strength from those who love us in this community of faith, we might find that we are more than we thought. We might even find the strength to pray with energy and passion for the new thing that God wants to do in our lives.
Shared by a member of the Marble Women’s Ministry