I have been thinking about Chana and her prayer. It is fascinating from so many aspects, especially for all of us who struggle with prayer, each in our own way.

Chana cried out to her Creator because she hadn’t been able to conceive. She cried, she wailed, silently, but until she would be heard. From the outside she appeared to be drunk for only her lips were moving but she made no sound.

When confronted by the High Priest she explained that she was far from drunk. "No my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before G‑d."

It was her barrenness that brought about her prayer It was her barrenness that brought about her prayer. In due time, Chana gave birth to a son and named him Samuel. "I have asked him (borrowed him) from G‑d."

We speak so much about barrenness. What does it mean? Could it be that we are pregnant with our barrenness? Can we gestate barrenness? Does it give birth to something, does it abort? What part of us is it really, and how do we nurture it and why?

Perhaps we must look at barrenness from the point of being pregnant, not biologically but spiritually pregnant. What is prayer? What grows inside of a person that she or he has to find a way to call out to G‑d? If I would not have that “barrenness” inside me, where would the need come from to call out, to attach with such intensity?

So what is this barrenness? It certainly is not empty, and it certainly is not something that is outside of us. Only something flowing through one’s veins giving one life---only something so full can bring a person to cry out, to cleave to G‑d, to push her words upward.

There is no emptiness here, and there is nothing quiet and sheepish either.

So, what are we barren with? What are we pregnant with ?

How is barrenness defined?

bar·ren (b²r“…n) adj. 1.a. Not producing offspring. b. Incapable of producing offspring. 2. Lacking vegetation, especially useful vegetation. 3. Unproductive of results or gains; unprofitable. 4. Devoid of something specified. 5. Lacking in liveliness or interest. —bar·ren n. A tract of unproductive land, often with a scrubby growth of trees. Often used in the plural. —bar“ren·ly adv. —bar“ren·ness n.

What are we speaking about, Chana's desire to have a child or perhaps her longing, her fullness that expressed itself in her tefilot, through her prayers? Doesn't sound like anything unproductive to me.

We are all pregnant with something. We all have our longings. Can we be pregnant with pain? Can we be pregnant with happiness?

Only something so full can bring a person to cry out

preg·nant 1 adj. 1. Carrying developing offspring within the body. 2.a. Weighty or significant; full of meaning. b. Of great or potentially great import, implication, or moment. 3. Filled or fraught; replete. 4. Having a profusion of ideas; creative or inventive. 5. Producing results; fruitful. --preg“nant·ly adv. adj. Archaic. Convincing; cogent. Used of an argument or a proof.

Chana, what was it all about? What do we learn about it, and after we go through the birth, what do we do with our offspring? What do we do with our longings when they are met, our pain when it is resolved, our ideas when they are fulfilled, and how do we mourn for those things that never got off the ground and why?

The image of Chana, bent over “mumbling like a drunk,” the image of Chana bent over, her lips hardly moving as the words seeped through them straight from her heart, this image has to make us have a visceral reaction. A moment of such longing that your heart and mind and lips are one. A moment where the conscious choice ceases to be yours, as your soul takes over to spill forth and “fling words towards Heaven.” This was Chana’s barrenness. It was so full that it spilled throughout the Heavens.