... in hands

Published on 26 Mar 2017
A woman sewing.

As I held my tiny grandson asleep in my arms on Mothering Sunday, my mind was suffused with awe – that’s the only way I can explain it! The feeling was like a face becoming suffused with a blush. Another generation and now I was the grandmother.

My thumb played up and down the soft little finger curled over mine. I was awe-filled as I felt each minuscule knuckle – a miracle of engineering – and gazed at the soft, perfectly formed nails. Where would these hands go? What would they accomplish in the years to come?

How precious are hands. How expressive. How useful! They write exquisite words. They are industrious and creative. They grasp in friendship. They pull up the fallen and hold on to the weak. They are used to augment our excitement and astonishment. They clap for joy. They are held in love and companionship. What a joy-filled sight it is to see a couple, advanced in years, holding hands as they walk along. What a delight to watch a tottering child’s hand cupped in his father’s big one. What a wondrous feeling holding the hand of someone you love deeply. What comfort is given in the hand that holds the dying person’s.

Hands can do such harm too. They can be held up in anger, displeasure, annoyance. They can deface and write calumny. They can be lazy and destructive. They can destroy good and cause evil. They can hurt and harm and kill.

Sometimes in the movement of my own hands I catch glimpses of my grandmother’s. She was the warmest, kindest, loveliest person – full of busyness for others. The way I sew with a needle and thread is exactly as I recall my mother sewing. What a warm feeling that gives me. Sometimes I glimpse with pleasure the shape of my husband’s hands in the hand gestures of our children and then I hope they use them as industriously as he used his.

The Bible is full of references to hands: hands writing in the sand, the laying on of hands,  life-giving hands, hands breaking bread, hands gathering crusts, hands raised in blessing, hands raised in praise, hands stretching out in love, hands drawing water, hands sawing wood, hands counting money, hands touching, hands holding, hands held in love, hands nailed through.

Gazing at his peaceful face, I asked God to guide the hands of my sleeping grandson through all the years to come. Let them be useful hands Lord; hands that stretch out in joy and love and friendship to all he meets. Let them not cause distress or hurt. And please, God, keep him safe in the palm of your hand. Amen.