Herald Journal Columns
June 11, 2007, Herald Journal

Examining our hands


One beautiful sunny day a little boy was in his community park playing with his Frisbee. With one stronger throw his Frisbee unexpectedly went sailing toward an elderly man, who sat feebly on a park bench. The elderly man abruptly raised his hand and caught the Frisbee.

The little boy went running as fast as he could to the elderly man. The little boy sat down beside him, though he didn’t acknowledge the boy’s presence.

Finally, the little boy asked him, “Are you ok? My Frisbee didn’t hurt you, did it?”

“No, I am fine. Thank you for asking.” The elderly man then asked the little boy, “Have you ever sat and looked at your hands?”

The little boy slowly opened his hands and stared down at them. He turned them over, palms up and then palms down. “No, I guess I never really sat and looked at my hands.”

The elderly man asked, “As young as you are, what have you done with your hands so far in life?”

The little boy thought for a moment, his eyes sparkling with a smile on his face. “When I was a baby I used to suck on my thumb. It made me feel secure. Then my hands got stronger. I played with toys and carried my blanket around everywhere. My hands then played with trucks and building blocks. I played ball and raked leaves with my dad.

“My mom would ask me to set the supper table and dry the dishes. At night time I would fold my hands in prayer. I now go to school and draw around my hands. I hold my pencil. I put my hand on my heart. I do many things with my hands.

The little boy was curious, “Why did you ask me that question?”

The elderly man replied, “We should all be grateful we have our hands. My hands have served me well over the years. My hands have been tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. When I was a toddler my hands braced and caught me before I crashed upon the floor.

“They also put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. My hands were also folded in prayer at mealtime and bedtime. My hands tied my shoes, pulled on my boots, and buttoned my coat.

“My strong hands allowed me to climb trees and swing from a rope that hung in the tree. I played ball with my friends. My hand held my girlfriend’s hand and both hands held her tight with love.

“My left hand soon became decorated with a wedding band that showed the world that I was married and loved someone special in life. Down the road I held my newborn in my hands. I wiped my children’s tears and caught them before they fell upon the floor.

“My hands have consoled and helped neighbors and gripped together in anger when I didn’t understand life’s problems. They trembled when I walked my daughter down the aisle of her wedding. As time went on my hands shook and trembled as I wiped the tears when they buried both of my parents. Over the years my hands have been dirty, scraped, swollen, scarred, and bent. Yet, they were strong in times of need to help others.

“Now, being elderly, not much else works but my hands, which hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer. These hands are a mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of my life. But more importantly it will be the hands that God will reach out for that will lead me home. He won’t care where these hands have been or how many scrapes, cuts or bruises are on them. What he will care about is whom these hands prayed for and whom we helped along life’s journey.”

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