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On A Foundation of Sapphires

Stone cold floor, washbasin of tears
Bitter stone, floors too familiar
All these years, a flat empty altar
Where she had kneeled, prayed
Pleas echoing in shattered songs
Tight fists battling pain. Barrenness.
Emptiness. Void. Nothing left.

Hannah, חנה, Chana, woman of grace
Woman of favor, so deeply loved
And yet, this fate – her childlessness!
A burden unbearable, and Elkanah
A devoted, caring man at last pleading
Declaring his love was surely enough

Yes, yes. It is. But doesn’t he know?
Does he not feel and bear this same longing…
For a child. Theirs. To hold. To love.

Woman, why do you weep? A bold voice.
In drunkenness of despair, Hannah did not hear
Again, the old priest Eli asked why she wept
Loudly, as if the temple bore her anguish

God give me a son! Send fruitfulness!
And I will give him back to You…

And deep within, she heard Isaiah’s words
Spoken by God not only for Israel, but for her
Sing! You who felt abandoned…Sing!
I will rebuild you, I will rebuild!
On a foundation of sapphires

In miracle days, Hannah’s son was born
Samuel. Extraordinary life gift. Born of faith.

© 2012 S. Michaels
Divine Destinies – Poetic Portraits of Powerful Bible Women
Based on Hannah’s story. 1 Samuel 1 – 2:10 and Isaiah 54:11

Author’s notes: In writing about Hannah, I considered how the Bible prophet Isaiah may have lived during or around the time of Hannah, which might mean Hannah could have heard him teach, perhaps in the temple where she prayed. I imagined Hannah being stirred by Isaiah’s words of God’s promised fruitfulness for Israel, and in bold faith, praying likewise over her own barrenness.  The deep blue stone, sapphire, is considered a symbol of heavenly grace.


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The Hidden One סְתֵּר

Wide irises soft as stardust
Scented with lemon and myrtle
Nestled in billowing tents
Skies torn apart by storms
‘Hadassah’…‘hidden one’…
My mother’s tears, sorrowing
Sensing from the start I was born
Far beyond her grasp, called away
Led afar, my beauty purchased
Lost in a household of strangers
Perfumed for a Persian king
I was to replace his wife, a betrayer of
His decrees. His wishes. His will.
‘Esther’… ‘star’, he whispered
Coal fire eyes burning into my soul
A queen of secrets, little did he know
A Jewess, bright jewel, hidden by G_d
And in the land, darkness, spun from hell
A whirlwind of hatred for my people
Dooming my nation, my heritage
I wept and fasted three days
And risking all appeared before the king
Who had not called me for many days
“If I perish…I perish…” I prayed
Reaching out, voice low, I knelt
Before the Great Ahasuerus, and knew
His eyes. His voice. His love.
Esther, Hadassah, the hidden one
An honoured bride, a wife free
To arise with her king and declare
Deliverance…for my true beloved…Israel.

Copyright S. Michaels 2010 (Based on the Book of Esther, an excerpt from Divine Destinies: Poetic Portraits of Powerful Bible Women) Above image from ‘One Night with the King‘ (2006)

(Author’s note: Only 10 of my poetic portraits of Bible Women are shared on this blog. Esther is one of my favorites…The remaining women will be revealed with release of the book!  🙂 


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The Forsaken One

Woman, why don’t we go somewhere?
Night and day, men coerced to buy her for a song
Eyes like a dove, wings clipped, unable to fly
Vulnerable, broken, pawned and stung by lies
Belittled by pain, her life a prison without bars
Forsaken by all, ‘a deal’s a deal’, she was told
A fallen woman, half-mad she wept and wept inside
How did you fall so low, Magdalene?

Woman, why did you do the things you did?
Whispers taunting, sly judgments harsh
Then touched by His love inexpressibly tender
Seven demons fled as He demanded they leave her
Anointing Him before a brash company of men
Sweet nard mixed with tears, a year’s wages spilled forth
Men mocked, yet at His feet she washed with perfumed hair
Leave her alone, The Master said. She prepares me for my death.

Woman, tell me, why do you weep?
Strange and brutal question, on a day impossible to bear
Torn apart by the final curtain, and death’s cross too cruel
Sunlight failed to warm her, her heart broken near an empty tomb
‘Please tell me where they have taken him!’ The aching cry!
Mary…my Magdalene…His words rendered peace untold
Do you not know it is I?, and running on windswept hills,
Alive with truth, Magdalene rejoiced, ‘My Saviour lives!’

 

Copyright 2010 S. Michaels  Based on the meeting of Christ-follower, Mary Magdalene, with the Risen Lord, Matthew 28; Excerpt from ‘Divine Destinies – Poetic Portraits of Bible Women’


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Tzipporah צִפוֹרָה

‘…a bird’…
Seventh daughter, shepherdess
Winged seeker, questioner
Woman of vision soaring
Above entrails of ancient idols
Midianite gods and Ashteroth
Abandoned for Moshe’s faith
A bridegroom at a well
Like Rachel meeting Jacob
Inspiring each other
Serving him for love
Melding with Ha Shem’s plans
Aligned with a runner from God
Reflections in each others eyes
Soul mates, dual hearts of fire
Digging deep life’s wells
Passions imprinted forever
Tzipporah, bride of Israel’s future
Repentance pooled in deserts hot
Seeking refreshment’s birth
Oases songs sweetly sung

Copyright S. Michaels 2010

Based upon Exodus 2:16-22, excerpt from ’Divine Destinies – Poetic Portraits of Bible Women’ 


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The Water Walker

Running, running
Outpacing typhoons
Shattered glass years
Lived here, there,
Everywhere broken
Redemptive ways few
Weary days like clay
Lumped, reshaped
Into strange seasons
Sherpa climbs and shelters
Stormy clefts and caves
Cast down and threatened
By those who had bought her
Until a mountain-melting whisper
Drew a line in the sand
While scoffers scattered
The woman scorned was freed
By the Man called ‘Jesus’
The One who walked on water

 

Copyright 2011 S. Michaels Based on the story of the woman caught in adultery  John 8: 1-11
Excerpt from ‘Divine Destinies – Poetic Portraits of Bible Women’


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Keeper of the Well

sepia-praying-woman

 

Water jars, my careful trade of bronzed brown clay

Each precious vessel hand-swirled on rough potter’s wheel

Aligned around me, drawing water, filled slowly, one by one

Nestled near Nahor’s spring, guarding my liquid blue treasure

Mediterranean eyes my inheritance, deep indigo reflection of seas

Tears my toil’s residue, crystalline, like shimmering seed pearls

Dripping head to toe soaked through and through at the well, I sang

Well of light my father Bethuel spoke of our place of tireless labour

Clay vessels my livelihood, gracefully upheld, costly as silver

Sharer of life-giving water, mine to serve, humbly, graciously

Waiting, watching, overseer of weary wanderers and camels

 

Rebekah… Rivkah…I was Keeper of the well.

 

Sand sprinkled water jars, slight shoulders swaying

Familiar and rhythmic my measured steps, pathways plain

Drawn to the well by dawn, cool and clear, traders voices rang

Coming and going, hour by lengthening hour, I watered thirsting needs

Lantern held high at night, many ventured to Nahor’s spring late

Approached one inky twilight by Eliezer, servant of Abraham

Seeking a woman divinely promised to Isaac, her name unknown

Praying to discover the one already chosen by Him

Eliezar’s bequest to God whispered in earnest hope and faith 

Unaware, responding as I always did, stepping forth to serve

At Nahor’s Well, ‘The Light’, I would be awed by what I heard

Blessings spoken. Gifts of gold given. Astounding, full of glory!

 

Rebekah…Rivkah…our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands

May your offspring possess the gates of your foes!

 

Hidden by veils, floating veils…trembling, breathless with anticipation

I reached out at Nahor not long thereafter to meet my beloved, Isaac…

We wed then, deeply loving, painful barrier of barrenness to reprove

Great promises unfettered by God’s grace, I bore our two sons

Jostling in my womb I brought forth two nations, many knew

El Shaddai was with us, thus there we praised Him

 

Rebekah… Rivkah…tied to a future far beyond all I dreamed

My love outpoured. Overflowing waters. Joy of life my deepest well.

 

 

 Copyright 2009 Susan Michaels (Based on Rebekah’s story – Genesis 24  (Excerpt from ‘Divine Destinies – Poetic Portraits of Powerful Bible Women  photo – hem of his garment. org


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Tabitha’s Miracle

sail

Ancient threads spooling round and round me from birth

Inherited fate of idol gods, long-worshipped Ishtar and Sin

Swaddled in mystery, proud lineage Aramean and Greek

Father joyous, anticipating a daughter divinely graceful

‘Gazelle’…Tabitha…he named me, an infant in his arms

Dorcas….’Gazelle’…mother echoed in Hellenic tongue

Let her be light-footed as a deer, dancing on the heights

Unknowing I would land on life’s shores, weak of limb

Unable to run and play, learning only to weave

Sewing…I created rich and wealthy robes for kings.

 

Silken strands, rainbow colors spun by slender fingers

Linens, cottons, tapestries bright, billowing under the sun

Eyes doe-like honeyed pools, reflecting dreams passed by

Sapphirine skies enveloping my days, ribbons of life fleeting

Wearied heart, shuffling seams, gold, indigo and red as blood

Earthbound ebony nights, spent longing for greater things

Beyond Joppa’s restless tides I was led to hear Him

Amazed to find greatest love of all at the Master’s side

At Caesarea He met me and everything changed, I danced  

Rejoicing…as had another, I brushed the hem of His garment.

 

Twisted yarn of empty past relinquished and forgotten

Inheritor of new life eternal, encountering Him, the Anointed One  

Daughter of faith, reborn of His Spirit, loving to serve

Heart aflame with heavenly visions, I embraced His passion

Life unburdened and outpouring every means to clothe the poor

Journeying tirelessly afar to help as many as I could

Everyone smiled in those days, knowing me as one who ran after Him

Great love to give, endless treasures of His life to share!

Stung by death’s sudden coldness and bleak shroud

Adrift upon dark plains, I heard Peter bidding aloud

Tabitha…Dorcas…Gazelle…Arise in Jesus’ Name…

A miracle!…I awoke, living in resurrection power!

 

 

Copyright 2009 Susan Michaels (Based on Tabitha’s story – Acts 9:36-43(Excerpt from ‘Divine Destinies – Poetic Portraits of Powerful Bible Women)