For many, our hands are symbols of what we do in life. Hands are so capable of grabbing, lifting, opening, twisting, pulling, painting, drawing, mixing, and soothing. Though it is easy for us to take our hands for granted because we use them so often, can you imagine a life without them? In a lifetime, a pair of hands may touch a million-and-one things. Just think of all of the uses your hands have, and think of all the physical objects your hands touch. Even on a daily basis it is a wonder to ponder all the uses of our hands. The list goes on and on.
In terms of appearance, hands come in all shapes and sizes. There are rough hands, smooth hands, hands with wrinkles from weathering and age, and hands with veins that showcase a person’s strength. There are small hands, big hands, skinny hands, and fat hands. Black, brown, and white are a few colors hands come in. The possibilities of what hands can look like stretch into the vast depths of time and space of our world. Over the course of human history, hands have been products of who we are as people.
As far as history goes, hands have played an essential role. Great pyramids have been constructed above scorching desert sands from the ability to lift, push, and pull. Empires have risen and subsided, which has been dictated by the hands of people. Roads have covered much of our earth, which are accompanied by power lines, pipes for water, and gargantuan, impervious, indestructible, and climate controlled buildings, all built by hands. In terms of shaping the physical spaces of the world, our hands have the power to create the abstractions of our imaginations.
Moving beyond just shaping the world physically, our hands may also shape how we treat one another. One, or many important and essential role(s), perhaps the most essential role(s), our hands play is the ability to love and care for others. Both an ordinary and a wondrous blessing is the capability to receive and give our love through our hands on a daily level. Patting someone on the back, waving to someone you may know, or to someone you may not know, giving applause for a job well done, cooking a meal for a hungry mouth, or soothing a weary soul are just a few things we may experience from our hands every day. So common are these acts that we unintentionally overlook the loving power of our hands.
Though Jesus Christ lived over two thousand years ago in a relatively small, agrarian, and diseased-ridden space of land, he revealed though his life the many ways in which we can change the world in the name of love. All by use of our hands, of course. With his hands, Jesus healed the sick, made the blind to see, the lame to walk, and calmed the most troubled souls. Whether you think of these stories as literal or metaphorical, clearly Jesus’ hands were enough to inspire those around him. So inspired by this love, Jesus’ disciples took it upon themselves, and continue to take it upon themselves to continue the legacy of spreading love through the actions of hands. Even in the direst of circumstances, because Jesus’ followers believed in this power of love so much, they were persecuted and even killed and indeed, still are to this day. Why else would Peter be crucified upside down if he didn’t utterly believe in the unconquerable power of the love he witnessed through the hands of his best friend. Pardon the extreme example, but it is all apart of this story.
In some way, which surpasses all understanding and is guided by the Holy Spirit, we are gifted and blessed with the responsibility to live towards Jesus’ example. It is possible for us to find common space to uplift Jesus’ example and strive for that standard within ourselves. Because, from what I’ve always heard from my pastors, is that it is in giving and denying ourselves that we receive the greatest gifts. Perhaps those gifts could be considered as gifts of love, both seen and unseen.
As for me, for the past month I have been surrounded by the love and energy of young hands at the play center in Masealama, Limpopo, South Africa. What I keep asking myself over and over again is how do I want to influence these many pairs of innocent and formative hands? How do I want to show the love from Jesus’ example to these children so that perhaps one day, they can do the same? How can I do this to all the different kinds of hands, as to move this world into a direction of a deep embrace of love and understanding? It sounds cheesy, I know, but bear with me. Both for myself and the outside world, I can’t help but think that though I may not influence the entire world, I can still can make a difference in this world that was given to me. That difference starts with my hands. No, the difference starts with our hands. Will you join me?