Repentance redefined: silent no more

Repentance redefined: silent no more February 14, 2013

Day 2:            “The pattern of Hannah’s spiritual growth echoes that of many, many other women in Scripture:

growth toward a larger sense of voice and personhood rather than silence.”

I grew up in a faith tradition that believed women were to be seen and not heard in the church and, for most part, at home, too. Based on a few verses from the Epistles, an entire gender, including myself, was silenced.

Yet new questions rose within me as I began to listen to the collective stories of women in Scripture. Only Scripture could unlock my cage and free my voice. I saw a completely different pattern. My first clue was Hannah’s story.

At first Hannah was silenced by the pain of her infertility, the open abuse she suffered from her fellow wife, Peninah, and even the subtle shaming of her desire for a son by her loving-but-unwise husband Elkanah.  But the story does not end there.

Hannah stood.

And in standing, she began her journey toward growth and voice.

Her next step was an unspoken prayer to God that reclaimed her desire for a son as a holy one and voiced a heart-broken request to be remembered by God. (I’ve been thinking lately that I need some lessons from Hannah on moaning and lamenting.)

Next, Hannah stood up to Eli the priest when he accused her of being drunk. “Not so, my Lord.” A woman… saying “no” to a priest… don’t miss the import of this!

Then Hannah named herself with “I am” and “I am not” statements, again owning her pain and desire.

After receiving Eli’s blessing (no hard feelings),

Hannah went her way.

She ate something, nourished herself.

Her face was no longer downcast.

Eventually, she had a son.

When her husband went to the temple, she did not go. She had a different plan that she boldly spoke and lived.

When she brought the boy to the temple, she left him there.

In the midst of the loss of her son’s presence, she sang a great song of praise to God.

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.”

What a voice! What a woman! What repentance… silent no more.

The pattern of Hannah’s spiritual growth echoes that of many, many other women in Scripture: growth toward a larger sense of voice and personhood rather than silence.

Once more, Hannah has inspired me to new growth.  She has lived the wisdom I seek: growth through daring to speak. She is my inspiration to attempt to write about my passion each day this lent. My tools are different than hers were, but we are sisters nonetheless.

May we as women dare to repent, to come to voice today. The world, the church, and our families need our presence, our voices, our love, and our wisdom.

What will you speak today?



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