I can’t sleep. Too many ideas going around in my head. I thought I’d get up and try to put some of them “down on paper”, so to speak.
I have an infatuation with hands. I always notice a person’s hands. It’s a little weird, maybe. I think you can tell a lot about a person from their hands.
One thing I’ve come to believe is the less manicured, the better. I see such stories in the “everyday” hands of those around me. Each line or wrinkle, imperfectly shaped nail, chipped bit of polish, that reddened hang nail, even the dirt, tell the tale of where that person has been this day. What they do, who they touch.
Women’s hands are the most fascinating. All the things they say about her.
My fashion teacher friend – her hands surprised me when I first noticed them. I have always admired her elegance and quiet beauty. Her hands are no different. They are feminine and graceful. They are not “fancy”, nor manicured – she is too selfless for that. The people those hands have touched! How many students have those hands guided in learning to sew, to create, to brighten up the world with vibrant creations of fabric? How many times have they patiently demonstrated a special technique or embellishment? Hers are the hands of one who creates every day. One who touches the lives of so many so delicately.
My mother’s and my grandmother’s hands. They are the same. They have worked hard all their lives. The soil under the nails from so many gardens planted to raise vegetables for the family. The chickens plucked, the fences mended, the cattle prodded, the hay harvested. The tireless cleaning and tidying to make not just a house, but a home. Myriads of cakes and pies and cookies to delight everyone, yet rarely a finger of icing stolen when no one was watching.
My best friend the nurse. Her hands have placed a cool cloth on the feverish brow. They have lifted more than the body; her gentle touch has lifted spirits in last days for many. All of the soft reassurance and comfort that her hands bring to those who need it most. Such strength in those hands to carry the load that others cannot bear. Carefully giving nourishment and relief from pain for those that are struggling.
I think of these mother’s hands too.
Shaky and unsure when we hold our baby for the first time. Yet those hands do not fail us. Those hands are so soft on our baby’s tender skin. We can’t get enough of touching that skin. Our hands seem to ache to caress that tiny cheek as we are in awe that we have created something so beautiful. We hold that tiny hand in our own and whisper prayers of thanks for our precious ones.
They tirelessly soothe the fevers and bumps and bruises as those babies grow. They are firm when they need to be, and still they are the hand that the little one reaches for whenever they need to. And our hand is always there. They gently guide those first steps and dust off the little bum to try again. Our hands linger there, motionless in mid-air for a moment when we realize that they are off and able without our hand to guide them.
All too soon it is a rarity to be able to hold those soft, warm hands in our own. We steal a quick gentle touch on the top of the head when they are not paying attention just so that we can feel those childhood locks one more time. We sneak a comforting hand on a shoulder when the tears fall or a quick brush of a wisp of hair behind her ear before she notices. Occasionally, we are able to still wrap our arms around that teenager and feel that moment again.
Our hands are our lives. They tell the story of our connections with the world. They are our connection to the world; to each other.