I could say a lot about Hannah. I feel as though I almost know her, I have almost met her, across a crowd, just out of reach. I recognize her, the tilt of her head, her hair obscuring her face. Is she happy now?
I had read about Hannah before, of course, but I really found her when I went looking for Samuel, her son, and his story of call; recommended reading for those discerning their own priestly vocation. I accidentally started at the beginning of the book, and there she was, with a call that much more closely matched my own than Samuel’s dream did, with a call that was heard and fulfilled and left me hopeful.
Hannah knew her call. She would not be deflected from it by those who did not understand it, like Elkanah, those who had already achieved it, like Peninnah, and forgotten what it was like to live in longing.
She knew that God knew that she knew her calling. She talked to God, bargaining, explaining, cajoling, pleading. She knew that she could not fulfill her call without God’s help, and she did not understand why God would keep her waiting, but she never believed that God had not called her. She offered her call back to God, for God to fulfill.
Eli thought she was crazy, or drunk. At least, he did at first. But when she explained it to him, he recognized that call under which she laboured, because he had a call of his own, and he knew its weight, its gravity, and his heart was touched, and he wanted her to know its joy, too. So he prayed for her.
Hannah left hopeful. She had no reason, really, to believe that anything would be different after this visit than after any other, yet she hoped.
And in time, for Hannah, the call was completed.
Sometimes, the waiting lasts forever, and it is hard, so hard; but Hannah has hope that in God’s own time, all will be fulfilled.