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Monday, February 13, 2012


Have you ever stopped to look at your hands? Sure, we notice the extra “wisdom” wrinkles from time to time (that’s what those extra creases are, you know) or how cracked and dry they might be, but I’ve been thinking lately about what our hands truly stand for - how they love, serve, work and comfort.

Our hands are present for some very significant events, particularly during two life-changing moments – “Will you marry me?” and “We’re having a baby!” Hands reached out to embrace our fiancé as a new ring adorned them after the first question, while they yearned to hold our spouse with the second piece of miraculous news.

We use the word “hand(s)” for so many things – “Hand it over!” “Can you give me a hand with that?” “Give him a hand, folks!” “I have to hand it to her…” “Hands down – that’s the best one!” “He’s such a handy fella (well, that’s close enough…) and “It’s not in our hands.” Finally, if while taking your child to school for the first time, he/she wouldn’t hold your hand, gently remind yourself that they’ll always hold your heart.

When we follow a passion (like a kid who can’t resist that urge to dive into a pillow pile), the transitions from “I like to write” to “I’m a writer”, “I like to run” to “I’m a runner”, “I like to paint” to “I’m a painter”, “I like to teach” to “I’m a teacher”, “I like to dance” to “I’m a dancer” and “I like to build” to “I’m a builder” just happen. It’s in our hands to add the zeal that adds the “er.”

I think what brought the most attention to hands for me is an amazing exchange that is done during a marriage preparation retreat. The lights are low, while candles are gently dancing in the dark. The engaged couples face each other and the following passage is slowly read to them…(I wish I was able to give credit to an author because there is always lots of sniffles in the crowd after this…)

(Woman takes man’s hands in hers) “These hands, young and strong, vibrant with love, are the hands that will hold yours on your wedding day. Are you ready to promise to love him all the days of your life? These hands may appear large and clumsy and rough, yet do you not find them gentle enough to hold you close?

These hands will work long and hard. Are you ready to work together with his hands to make your house a home and your children a family? These hands care for you. Will you allow them to wipe tears from your eyes - tears of joy and tears of sorrow?

These hands are the hands of comfort and acceptance. Will you want them to hold you when fear and grief rack your mind? These are the hands that wish to embrace you throughout the years. Are you ready to allow them to make the wonders of love come alive?

(Man takes woman’s hands in his) These are the hands that pledge love for you. Are you ready to place your ring on them on your wedding day? These are the hands that are young and smooth and careful in their love for you right now. Will you still want to hold them when they are old and wrinkled and burdened with the years?

These are the hands that wish to hold you tight. Will you accept them when everyone else has left you alone? These are the hands that are caring. Will you let them change the dirty diapers, bandage the scraped knees and pamper your grandchildren?

These are the hands that have concern for you. Do you want them to massage tension from your tired neck and back at the end of a long, hard day? These are the hands of love. Will you let them care for you in the passion of love throughout the years?

These are the hands of comfort. Will you let them hold your face and wipe away your tears when you don’t understand why things happen? These hands are yours to love. Are you ready for this?”

And, in such a time of reflection with the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the relentless blaze in Central Texas, I have to stop and think of the many hands out there helping and serving others they’ve never even met before, working endless hours to rebuild, holding others close in mourning and the countless hours spent folded in prayer. I will never look at hands the same, as they reach out and embrace this life.

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