Isn’t it such a good feeling to have written out a long To-Do list and then to have completed it? I had it in mind to have these grounds in order by dark. Abram likes order, and with all the people in this house, there is so little of that to go around.
I have felt a bit of a perfectionist lately, and I am enjoying, now more than ever, a list and the beauty of a checkmark. Even though I have handmaids, I want to get my hands into the work of this house, especially the linens. They are my business. The cleaning and keeping fresh of linens is a woman’s signature, and if we are to own all this land, I feel the right to be particular.
All that was left to do after dark was to retrieve the linens after they had dried, and I wanted to do that myself. Yesterday was gorgeous, and the dust had hardly stirred, and when night fell, I was glad to have something to keep myself busy.
It was a long job, so I spent a while outside, and not once did I pause to count the stars. When by a very old habit, I start to count them, I am mocked, and I laugh at that hope I used to have, how I would dig my hand into the sand and try to count the grains, too, always wondering how many would be born of us. God must have meant something different than what we thought.
At first I thought my babies would blanket the earth like the stars do the sky, and don’t get me wrong, I still believe, but He must have meant something else. It has been too many years – so many years that I can count an army of baby boys born to other mothers in my house.
One of them had the greenest eyes, turned down a little where his lashes splayed, and though he was just a servant boy, my heart leapt to hear his laugh roll through my walls. I would stop whatever I was doing to go find him, begging his mother’s attention, hiding and popping out and squealing, unaware of me. I watched him grow, and he is old now, one of our very own trained men, one of 317 just like him, whom I have watched under my very own roof.
I have heard the laughter of every single one.
It is known that I am barren. Everyone knows that Abram is supposed to have a son, and I have failed the prophecy.
There is a girl, just my maid, named Hagar, and wouldn’t I love her son if he were of Abram’s seed? He could be the son of my house. Couldn’t I love him more than the green-eyed boy? Couldn’t I love him more than the 317? Couldn’t one night away from me bring us years of blessing, generations of fulfillment?
Maybe then – when I can hold that promise in my hands – I’ll start to count the stars again. Maybe then I’ll look up from all my work.
(from Genesis 16: 1-2)_________________________________