1 Samuel 1:9-18 is the prompt for the day.
On the heels of this past Sunday's lectionary texts of the "dry bones" and Lazarus, today we see the story of Hannah, mocked and taunted by her rival, Penninah who has scores of offspring while Hannah is unblessed. Weeping at the temple she confronts the priest who seemingly speaks to her first to encourage her to get lost, but God has other things in store. I first began to wonder about all of those times that we would rather chase away those who remind us of barren places, losses, poverty, dark sides we prefer to place far away lest we confront our own fears. We see it in those we pass on the street and even in churches that have lost their way yet long for new life. And it is easy to see ourselves in the Hannah role, but what about the priest?
He must have been changed too.
The God-person who sits by the doorway of the holy place.
Face to face with desperate unending pleading, and weeping
His heart as barren as her womb-
Locked up yet holding the keys.
How easy to call her a spectacle
For embodying “pray without ceasing”
And daring to believe that maybe, just maybe…
God will again create something where it seems like uninterrupted nothing.
Bring joy out of a desert of anticipated loss.
He had to be changed as implored,
Look at me-see me!
She who dared to confront him with his own dried up faith!
While he prefers to side with those who mock.
“I have been talking all this time, yet you do not hear me,” she says.
“Barren doesn’t fit your model of growth and success,” she says.
How easy it is to bless those who are already blessed.
Give me more than your pity, or your leftovers.
Give me your heart, praying with mine that I may have abundance too.
He had to be changed as he spoke to her, spoke with her- O Lord, hear our prayer.
Maybe he too only mouthed the prayers,
Like we do when we are so worn out, unsure but praying anyway.
Saying “may” God grant
Leaving open the question
And the seeming impossibility
That birthed new life.
How could it be that SHE changed HIM?
Lord, open our eyes and ears to those who cry to you from barren places
In all of those moments when we too
Say in our hearts- Lord only knows how this can change
Create in us fertile ground that expects
You will indeed bring forth your surprise and joy.