Monday, March 29, 2010


Shabbat had already begun. The Friday sun had settled into the hills outside Jerusalem, and though she wanted to run outside the city walls and up the hillside to get a better look, she knew the limitations of the mitzvah: she did not have enough steps available to her to get to the top of the hill and back. She would have to wait until tomorrow, when the Sabbath was over. So twelve-year-old Hannah repeated her prayers in her mind, drew her shawl around her shoulders, and waited.

The next night, when the sun had finally set upon the Sabbath, she ran up away from the smoke of evening fires that filled the air above Jerusalem. Up to the clear sky that swept like precious ink across the heavens. Stretching her neck and spinning around, she scanned the spanse of stars, the ones her father had taught her to know. There it was, sure and brilliant; a new star.

"Can it be?" she whispered the words aloud, her heart pounding and her breath quickened. Running down the hillside, she rehearsed what she would say.

"Rabbi! Abba! It is here. Look, in the west, up above the olive press. Look, the new star!"

Hannah was a good girl, dutiful and obedient, and never before had she given anyone cause to reprimand her. But when she tried to tell the people in her corner of the city that the sign had appeared, the one the Talmud said would signify the coming of the Messiah, they patted her head and called her a sweet little girl, prone to whimsical dreams.

"But you must go look, see what I have seen. Is it not said that a new star would appear in the sky?"

"Hannaleh," her mother stirred the coals of the fire as she spoke, "you are a good daughter, and it is right and good that you are familiar with the prophecies. But do you not think our rabbi would have heard if prophecy was fulfilled? Indeed, the priests in the temple would call us to prayer if this were so. Be still little one, the time will come soon enough. Now run and fetch some kindling.”

Still, late at night, Hannaleh rose quietly from her mat and turned her head toward the sky. Even brighter still, she knew this was the sign, and she searched the stars for direction.

The next morning Hannah raced through the town to the temple. Perhaps there was a sign from Simeon. Perhaps someone had declared something and her parents and rabbi had not yet heard. When she arrived at the temple gates she found Anna, wife of Simeon, singing outside the temple wall. Her music echoed off the stones, her arms lifted toward heaven, and though her voice was cracked with age, she believed that she had seen the King. But few believed her. They expected a man, in kingly robes and armies of able soldiers. How else would He be able to free the Jews from the rule of the Romans? Simeon, miraculously healed from his mute curse, sang with his wife. But their story was incredulous...a baby for a king? "They are burdened with the dreams of age," the townsfolk said, and they left them alone. But something stirred in Hannah when she heard their music.

Returning home with the news, her parents began to worry about her mental state. They consulted with the rabbi. They begged her to let go of this foolishness. People were starting to talk. "Must you shame us, little one? We've waited faithfully for generations, and we will continue to wait. Come, be a good girl."

And because she loved her family, and because she loved her religion, Hannaleh turned her eyes from the star and back to her feet.


Hannaleh watched.

She waited...

and she prayed.

Hannah searched in silence while she held to the laws of her parents.

Thirty years went by. One day, she heard about a righteous man who was said to be a miracle worker.. He had made a blind man see, and he had turned water to wine. Something compelled Hannaleh to take the path though the city, out to the hill. She took the hand of her little girl and walked to the hillside in Bethany where a great multitude had gathered to hear him. She listened as He taught, her little girl nestled in her lap the fresh scent of early spring grass filling her nostrils. And as she listened an old familiar feeling came over her. Old and sacred and cherished. Her heart throbbed in her chest and she pulled her child against her: she listened as he spoke.

This was the King, the keeper of the star, the Savior of Mankind. Finally, she had seen him come. With her very own eyes...she had seen Him come!


I have completely contrived this story, about a young girl with great faith, intelligence, and foresight. Few people believed her, because of her age and gender. But she knew. She knew something the learned ones had missed. Just like a fourteen year old boy, moldable and pure hearted, knew something learned religious men on his day did not know in 1820. It has never been incongruous for God to choose young righteous people to whom He would manifest His word.

I think of some of the Young Women I serve. Their faith is beautiful, and strong, and their wisdom is superb. I imagine, if they had been girls in the day of Christ’s coming, they would have what was needed to believe. The fact that Hannaleh decides to follow the request of her parents to keep the faith does not in any way make me think less of her. Her heart was prepared for the day when, in her adulthood, she finally met the man they called Jesus face to face. And when she met him, she knew him.

I love Hannaleh, even if she is only make believe. I like to think she represents the best in me…in all of us.


It is nearly 3 am and I am falling asleep at the computer here. It’s been a very long, yet beautiful Palm Sunday. I have no idea if the above story is even readable. But I will post it because I committed to post each day. Tomorrow I will revisit and edit. Forgive me if it appears to be a little sloppy…or a lot sloppy. The spirit is willing but the flesh is oh so tired!



Hannaleh’s steps are short and measured
Until the setting sun
Hannaleh reads and prays and watches
For the Messiah to come

CHORUS: Oh Hannelah, you look for the Holy One
When the prophets have waited for all of these ages
Do you think you would see him come

She's just a little girl
Yeah, she's a woman-child
What can she possibly know of the Spirit?
She says she’s seen a star
And it’s a holy sign
Says she will follow the voice of the messenger when she can hear it

Hannaleh races to the temple
Simeon starts to sing
Anna says, “Hannaleh I’ve seen the
One who will be the King.”


She tries to tell her friends
But they will not believe
And the rabbi has talked to her parents
They worry for her soul
They think she’s been deceived
Would not the priest and the rabbi agree on a sacred appearance?

Hannaleh’s love for God is mighty
She loves her family, too
So Hannelah bows her head and does what
Every good daughter would do


Bridge: Thirty years go by
She’s on a mountainside
To see this man who’s been healing the children
And that old feeling comes
He feeds five thousand
And she rejoices, rejoices, rejoices and falls down before him


Oh Hannelah looks for the Holy One
When the prophets have waited for all of these ages
She has seen, she has seen
She has finally seen
With her very own eyes she has seen Him come.

Hannaleh, by the way, is an endearing way of saying Hannah.
“-leh” was added to the end of Hebrew names by those who loved them.


  1. OUrs, by the way, was a great palm Sunday, too. It started on Saturday, oddly enough, and didn't let up till night on the Sabbath. Good news and sad. The blessing of Christian fellowship and hope. And a hymn I could not sing for crying, even at the front of the congregation.

  2. just for the record. i think it incredible that you are so good at poetry and prose. wow