Laughter and Tears


A monologue based on the experience of Sarah in the Old Testament, written by me for a service my wife was taking at a local congregation. It relates to the lectionary readings for last Sunday, but also to the fact that, as I was reflecting a few days ago, we have a tendency to write off people once they come to a certain age or stage of illness.


Laughter and tears…

Laughter and tears have marked my life
Especially my later years…

I could have cried when Abraham, or Abram as he was then,
said that God had told him to leave his father’s house in Haran
and set off for who knows where…
We were both already well on in years…
It was time to think about winding down
not setting off on a journey of exploration.

But I trusted him totally
I knew he loved me…
He said I was well named because I was his little princess… Sarai…
But I knew his name was painful to him… Ab-Ram… Exalted Father…
And because my years for bearing children were long in the past
We knew that name would never be fulfilled.
And I cried long into the night at that thought…

Yet God had promised that if we trusted him and went where he led
He would make Abram into Abraham… the Father of Many…
As many as the grains of sand on the shore
And the stars scattered across the sky…

So we set off from Haran in search of this land of promise
This place where old people give birth…
We ended up in Egypt during a time of famine
and our journey nearly ended there
When the Pharaoh wanted to claim me as his wife…
As if he didn’t have enough of them already…
We had both doubted the protection of God
And Abraham had pretended I was his sister…
When the Pharaoh found out we had lied
We almost died…

But we didn’t…
and we went back to the land of Canaan…
You would have thought that would have taught us to trust God more closely
And not try to cook up schemes of our own.
But know…
When it seemed no more likely that I would have a child
I encouraged Abram to father a child on my servant Hagar…
I’m ashamed to admit it…
It wasn’t his idea…
But he did, and was so proud of the child when it was born.
I on the other hand, even though it was my idea
Was mad with jealousy
Eventually I drove Hagar and her child away from our encampment…
I didn’t care if they lived or died…
In fact I prayed for the latter…

If only I had trusted God, what pain would have been avoided.
Yet despite my lack of trust
God still promised that Abraham and I would give rise to a mighty nation…
I whose spirit and body had dried up.
I laughed at the thought of it…
And God said our son would be called “Laughter” – Isaac

And nine months later I was laughing again…
Though it made my body ache
Not the cynical laughter of someone who doubts
But the laughter of someone who has known the impossible come true.
Laughter and tears…
Laughter laced with tears of joy…


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