February 2019 (Vol. XXXII, No. 2)

Dear Friends ~ In meditative arts retreats that involve knitting or felting or other hand crafts, we often begin with a reflection on the gift of our hands, followed by a hand washing and massage ritual that each one gives to another. The human hand is a complex and wondrous feat of engineering design, combining the strength and power of a rock climber with the intricate dexterity of a pianist or watchmaker. The densest cluster of nerve endings in the entire body grace our fingertips, allowing us to feel the whisper touch of a butterfly, read Braille, or take the pulse of another's beating heart. Hands work clay, knead dough, transfer healing energy, clench, open, caress, beckon, communicate, wipe away tears, hold and let go. Hands help define us as human. They are the instruments of touch that connect us with one another. From the baby's first curious exploration of hands— "what strangers are these?" —to the elder's reckoning with gnarled, arthritic hands, our hands can teach us a great deal if we but let them. What stories would your hands tell? What memories do they hold? Can they invite you into a simple daily meditation on mindfulness, gratitude and wonder?

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In my hand

winter rain
the warmth of your hand
in my hand

~ Jeannie Martin

Our hands before our eyes

All the powers of the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.

~ Swami Vivekenanda

Of my hands

Of my hands I give to you, O Lord
Of my hands I give to you.
I give to you as you gave to me
Of my hands I give to you.

~ from hymn by Ray Repp

I have held many things in my hands

I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess.
~ Martin Luther

In our palms

Just as a pebble thrown into the water creates ripples, so our thoughts create similar effects in our palms.
~ Michael Scotts

Good human work

Good human work honors God's work. Good work uses no thing without respect, both for what it is in itself and for its origin. It uses neither tool nor material that it does not respect and that it does not love. It honors nature as a great mystery and power, as an indispensable teacher, and as the inescapable judge of all work of human hands.
~ Wendell Berry in THE ART OF THE COMMONPLACE

The hands will solve a mystery

Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.
~ Carl Jung

Each is present in your body

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see our parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

With both hands

Hold a true friend with both hands.
~ Nigerian proverb

The hand that gives the rose

The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.

~ Heda Bejar

God has given us two hands

God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.
~ Billy Graham

It will land in your hand

Love is like a butterfly. If you chase after it, it will fly away. But if you are patient, and wait long enough, it will land in your hand.
~ Unknown

The work of our hands

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us, establish the work of our hands.
~ Ps. 90:17

Each human hand

What shall I do
with this quiet joy?
It calls forth the expanse
of my soul, calls
it forth to go singing
through the world...
to collect the rain
in my hands
and spill it
like laughter...
to bear into this world
a place where light will glisten
the edge of every wing
and blade of grass,
shine along every hair on every head,
gleam among the turnings of every wave,
glorify
the turning open of each life,
each human hand.
~ from "Magnificat" by Christina Hutchins

Hands are beautiful

Touch and the world of touch bring us out of the anonymity of distance into the intimacy of belonging. Humans use their hands to touch—to explore, to trace, and to feel the world outside of them. Hands are beautiful. Kant said that the hand is the visible expression of the mind. With your hands, you reach out to touch the world. In human touch, hands find the hands, face, or body of the Other. Touch brings presence home... The energy, warmth, and invitation of touch come ultimately from the divine. The Holy Spirit is the wild and passionate side of God, the tactile spirit whose touch is around you, bringing you close to yourself and to others.
~ from ANAM CARA: A BOOK OF CELTIC WISDOM by John O'Donohue