Barren, aka the worst word ever

September 15, 2007 conceivingisbelieving

B is home! He arrived a couple hours before Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and it was the best way to start a new year. We did the whole emotional airport scene and I couldn’t stop smiling. We spent the holiday – all 3 days – with his sister, her husband and their 4, soon to be 5, boys. There was a lot of laughing and even more food and it was so much better having B with me.

On one of the days of the holiday, we went to synagogue where they read aloud the portion from the Old Testament of the story of Chana. She was one of the wives of Elkanah. His other wife, Pnina, had tons of children but Chana was barren. The story goes on to tell how Chana prayed a silent prayer, which wasn’t really done until then, and promised to devote her son to G-d if she could only have a son. She did and her son did. That’s a brief and really understated version of the story. The real thing is very moving and good reading material for anyone going through all of this.

I, unfortunately, missed the day of synagogue where they actually read this aloud. Instead, I read it to myself the next day as I was listening to the shofar being blown. I stood there with the siren like sound echoing in my ears while reading the heartbreaking tale of Chana. It was almost too much for me. Reading phrases like “G-d had closed her womb” hit me in a such a visceral way that I had to close my eyes and take a breath. I just kept reading and reading even though my eyes burned with tears and the lump in my throat grew larger and larger. I was so struck at the similarities between an old biblical text and my current life. At one point it says of Chana that “she would cry and not eat” and I completely understood her depression.

 What I got out of this story was the power I have to pray. It’s not easy when you’re as out of practice as I am, and definitely easier said than done. But standing there in synagogue surrounded by mothers and their children, I was struck by this epiphany and it felt so real and true. It felt like a direct line had opened up to G-d and it took all my strength to keep my tears from falling. I was more connected to my faith then I let myself be in a long time.

The other thought I had was that of my middle name, Chana. My mother gave me that name because I was her first child after suffering a miscarriage. For all of those months before she gave birth to me she felt like she would never be a mother, just like Chana. All of a sudden it hit me that I was fulfilling my name. So ironic that the name my mother chose out of happiness of finally having a baby turned out to bite me in the ass. It’s funny because I’ve never really liked this name and now it’s become who I am.

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One Comment Add your own

  • 1. chicklet  |  September 16, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Sorry but that’s kinda funny – that you’re named after someone barren and now you’re going through it. It sucks and all, but sure makes your name all that much more interesting:-)


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