Another evening in Shiloh
Another evening in the tabernacle
And Hannah was alone

She wept
No food but that of tears
No drink, no sleep, no words
She had no child, no son
But her rival
Her husband's other wife
She had many children
Sons and daughters

Her husband loved her
More than ten sons
He gave her double portions
But no child, no son
Her rival tormented her
Provoked her
And made her miserable
For she had sons and daughters

She thought of holy women
Other women, in other times
Women who trusted God
For children
For sons of promise

Eve trusted God
For Seth
Sarah trusted, for Isaac
Rebekah, for Jacob
Rachel trusted God
For Joseph
And Ruth, for Obed

But, oh, the long waiting!
Oh, the terrible grief!
Abel was murdered, Cain cursed
Rebekah waited twenty years
Sarah twenty-five
Her womb died
But God made her laugh!

Rachel waited fifteen years
Wrestled with her sister
Said, "Give me children or I die."
Gave Jacob to Leah
For mandrakes

Ruth waited ten years
Suffered famine
Watched her husband die
Clung to Naomi
Then left home and family
For Jehovah

Questions swirled in her mind
Had she trusted?
Had she prayed?
Had she given God her petition
For a child, for a son?
Had she laid this burden at his feet?
Had she waited long enough?
Had she experienced enough grief?
Or must she endure more years of suffering
At the hands of her rival?

She thought of these women
Remembered their sacrifices
The giving, the dying, the leaving
Is this what God wanted?
A sacrifice, to give her a son?
She would give it
Die to it
Leave it
She would do anything

"What is it, Lord? What do you want?"
She heard his voice
"Give me your son."
To live or to die?
The other women hadn't done that!
Wait, the tabernacle
Service to the Lord
In Shiloh
"I'll give him, Lord,
To serve you
All the days of his life.
No razor will touch his head.
Now give me a child, a son."

No food but that of tears
No drink, no sleep, no words
Only lips moved
In symphony with her heart
An observer thought she was drunk
Eli the priest
"Put away the wine," he said.
She, drunk?
Not on wine!
Oh, yes, drunk on grief
"Because of my petition," she said.

The Spirit of the Lord heard
The voice of the Almighty answered
But not how she expected
Not how she had dreamed
Eli replied,
"May the Lord give you peace.
May the Lord grant your petition."

Her heart was pacified
Her prayer had been heard
Her sacrifice made
So she ate and drank and slept
Worshipped and went home
No longer sad

Her husband lay with her again
And God answered her petition
He opened her womb
As she stroked her stomach
Prayed and hummed
She knew the child would be a son
Healthy and strong, faithful and true
Heard by God
Nursed and weaned
Left in Shiloh
And lent to the Lord

She rejoiced in the Lord
Her horn was exalted
She smiled at her enemies
Rejoiced in his salvation
None holy like the Lord
No rock like her God
He is a God of knowledge
By him actions are weighed

She who stumbled
Was girded with strength
She who hungered
Had ceased to hunger
She who was barren
Had borne seven

Once dead,
Now made alive
Once poor,
Now made rich
Once low,
Now lifted up
Once a beggar,
Now set among princes

The earth's pillars are the Lord's
The world is set upon them
The saints are guarded by God
The wicked are silent in darkness
Man's strength will not prevail
God's adversaries will be broken
The Lord will judge the earth
Give strength to his king
And exalt his anointed

Lent to the Lord
Three more sons, two daughters
And Samuel
Serving the Lord

I finish reading
And wonder if I,
Like Hannah
And like the holy women of old,
Have trusted God
For this child
This son of promise

Four long years I've waited
Yet questions now swirl in my mind
Have I given God my petition?
Have I laid this burden at his feet?
Have I made my sacrifice?

"Here he is, God.
I give him to you
To serve you
All the days of his life.
Now give me a child, a son."