Tag Archive | lament

Song of Hagar: a Lenten Lament


Jean-Charles Cazin (1840-1901)

Some background notes for those who may be unfamiliar with the story found in Genesis 16:1-16 and Genesis 21:1-21:

  • Hagar was an Egyptian maid to Sarah, wife of Abraham, who had been promised a son through whom God would bless his descendants and the whole world.
  • When it seemed Sarah could not bear the child promised by God, Abraham took Hagar as his concubine, and she bore a son, whom she named Ishmael.
  • After Sarah finally did bear a son, whom she named Isaac, she insisted that Abraham dismiss Hagar and her son Ishmael, so there would be no competition for the prized inheritance.
  • Hagar then found herself abandoned with her son in the scorching deserts of the Middle East.


I wail a song of sorrow, of a grief that

stretches far beyond the stillness of these

haunted, bitter sands; my tears, the only

water in this endless barrenness—not

enough to keep me and my son alive.


I moan a song of fear, alone,

abandoned in this emptiness;

terrors harsh beneath a bruising sun that

wilts my dream of a tomorrow for my boy

whose eyes stare out his question,

“why, my mother, why?”


I howl a song of anger—did I not do

everything just right? or almost right,

at least? obey the master? bow to my

lady’s pride? cook the meals and

clean the tents? only to be cast

aside like offal from a sacrifice?

where are you, God? your promises

right now mere dust I soon will spread

across the body of my son.


I chant a mantra of my empty faith, of

questions many as the stars I see in desert

night; the gods of Egypt youth eclipsed by

God of Sarah—a God I can no longer trust;

once spoke with me—I thought—to promise

greatness for my son; his only greatness now his

anguished moans of thirst and fear of

death which ghostly hovers in his breath.


A voice? another desert song nearby? my ears

now playing tricks of angel promise shushing fear?

my eyes deceiving me? mirage of water

whisper-calling me to taste its sheer reality?

Dare I dip my soul again in faith?

Dare I taste the flowing Presence yet again?


I hum a quiet, timid hope, as water spills onto

my son to quench the thirst stretched

tight across his chest; as tiny drops of trust

distil in me to quell some of my

anger, fear—not all, but just enough to take one

desert step and then another one to help me

learn this desert way; to take my son into

tomorrow all unknown; believe that he, that

we, will never be alone.


Misty Morning Lament

misty morning

I wake to dampness

dripping from the eaves;

dank shadows lurk in

trees and creep across my

bed; my limbs hang limp, the

moisture seeping into bones;

my eyes are filled with gray as

far as they can see—not very

far; my world is almost gone.

A siren slices through the rain that

beats hard on my window, shouting

wet disdain for all our loneliness and pain.

Are we still here?  Have we, too,

vanished in this soggy mist?  The siren

moans again, its wail an echo of the

ancient cry, “O God, hide not your face from me.” 

O God, hide not your face;

shower our dark, O God, with your light,

reminding us that we are here;

reminding us that so are you.