Hannah shuffled painfully to the seat near the fire. Her husband laughed at her when she complained of cold and aching bones but faithfully lit the fire for her most days. She couldn’t help it: every day was cold in this season of life.
Slowly she lowered her frame into the chair. The grandchildren would be arriving shortly and treats and favorite foods filled the shelves in anticipation. She longed to see them again. Just one more time, Lord, that’s all I ask.
There had been a time when she had hoped that all the family would live together amongst these hills that were her home. But one after another they had left for greener pastures until just Hannah and her husband remained.
Sighing, she allowed her mind to dwell on former times when all the family would travel together to worship at the Lord’s temple. How she had enjoyed those times and the way the miles would pass as they told stories, sung songs and caught up on news.
But they were older now. Too old to make the journey. Instead the children would go with their children and on their return visit with Hannah and her husband.
It had become something of a tradition for Hannah to tell stories during these visits. As the grandchildren gathered about her knees they listened eagerly to the stories she told of men and women of old.
Today she had a special story planned. Today Hannah would tell the story of how God had poured His springtime into the barren winter land of her life. It was a story they needed to hear: a story she needed to tell before it was too late.
A log caught alight and sent a shower of sparks skywards. Soon the grandchildren would arrive. Soon.
Hannah awoke with a jerk. She’d fallen asleep in front of the fire and now she could hear voices as the grandchildren came noisily up the path. With just moments to spare before they burst through the door, she quickly straightened the rug over her knees and sat higher in the chair.
“Gran’ma, gran’ma,” childish voices clamored for her attention as childish faces gazed trustingly into her own. How she loved these little ones!
“Tell us a story, gran’ma. Tell us a story.”
“Tell us about Noah and the ark.”
“I want to hear about Abraham and Sarah.”
“No. Moses and the burning bush.”
Hannah raised her hand. “Today I’m going to tell you a story about a woman named Hannah and how God heard Hannah’s prayers.”
The children settled down wide-eyed in front of the fire as Hannah’s voice rose and fell with the story. The years fell away as Hannah was transported back in time.
All the signs point to a bitter winter. We’ve been harvesting and storing food for weeks knowing that there’ll be no gathering or hunting once the winter rains arrive.
Each day I watch as she diligently weaves and sews, ensuring her family will all have warm clothes for the coming winter. There is no time to sit still.
I offer to help but I can see she wants to do it herself. I understand. I would feel the same. She has what I so desperately desire – and like her sisters Hagar and Leah she taunts and provokes me. I cannot eat. I weep in anguish. My heart is as bleak and barren as the hills outside.
Each year before winter sets in we go up to worship and sacrifice at the temple. This year is no different. Except this year, I can bear it no longer. She hurts me exceedingly.
Deeply troubled, I go alone into the temple and pray. Pray as I have never prayed before. Pray for a child.
The priest there thinks I’m drunk. Me drunk! Fancy that!
“What happened then, gran’ma?”
Hannah reluctantly brought her attention back to the present.
“God answered my prayers and gave me a son.”
Hannah smiled down at the children gathered around her feet.
“Your Uncle Samuel of course.”
The children were silent and Hannah returned to her reflections. With Samuel’s birth springtime had come at last to her barren life.
She spoke aloud, “And winter was no more.”
Hannah laughed at their puzzled faces. One day they would understand.
My heart rejoices in You O Lord. … She who was barren has borne many children. … You bring death and make alive. … Praise the Lord, O my soul, Praise the Lord.
Based on 1 Samuel 1 & 2
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