10 Feb

IMG_3066     Ever looked at your hand closely?  I mean, closely!

I’ve carried mine around for almost 75 years but I can’t say that I’ve spent much time examining the contours and the valleys.  But, the other day when I opened my daily meditation book and sought out the day’s focus, here’s what it said:  Find a quiet place, relax, and spend 30 minutes focusing intently on your own hand.  What do you see…really see?  What stories does it tell you?  What do you learn about yourself from spending the time focusing on your own hand?

So I tried it…a little uncomfortably at first…seemed like a rather strange thing to do.  But as I sat in the quiet, I practiced the discipline of focusing, and here are a few observations: the gold wedding band that was put on my finger 55 years ago used to be etched in a lined pattern.  Now there is no trace of etching, only a smooth surface that has gotten that way through lots of adventures and lots of days.  I remember what it used to look like, but I think I like it better this way.   Then there’s the skin, once supple and strong, now thin and scarred in places, spotted with what my mother used to call “age spots”.

I asked my doctor recently why my hands bruise much more easily than they did 25 years ago.  He started his answer, like every answer to all my health questions, with:  “Well, at your age…”

Today is Ash Wednesday, a very special day in the Christian tradition, and I’ve just returned from an evening church service where the minister took us one by one, made the sign of the cross on our foreheads with ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday palm branches, looked each of us in the eye and declared:  “From dust you have come, and to dust you will return.”  Life is full of signs and messages reminding me of mortality, and the truth of the minister’s words is visible in weathered hands.  But I found myself smiling at my hands as I finished the meditation exercise.  They have held so many things over the years…and now they hold memories that make me laugh and sigh.

Our hands hold more than we realize…much more.

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