Thursday, June 17, 2010

My hands are my strength

A person's hands tell a lot about them.  Mine are a cross between my mother's and father's hands.  Carol's hands look much more like mom's than mine do, but every once in awhile I'll look at mine and see my mother's hands. 

One of my piano teachers made it very clear to me that long fingernails were unacceptable when playing the piano.  She couldn't bear listening to clickety-clack on the piano keys.  After awhile, neither could I. My fingernails have always been kept short because of that early training. 

When we owned the print shop, I discovered that I could no longer EVER wear fingernail polish - no matter how long it had been on my nails, it would rub off onto the jobs we were packaging or whatever paper I might be handling.  Though I tried several times, I was soon cured of desiring color on my fingers.  And, after awhile, I discovered that I just preferred them to be natural.

I wear two rings.  A wedding ring and on my right hand a band with the sign of the fish.  It's not a big deal, but it is a daily reminder to me that I am a part of something amazing.

I can't bear dirty hands.  When I was young, we would play outside in the dirt and in the sandbox.  It never took very long for me to be in washing the dirt off my hands.  But, I hated having mom ask me if I'd washed my hands after going to the bathroom.  Really, mom?  Believe it or not, sometimes I rebelled against that.  But, sooner or later, I'd have to go in and wash them.  I can't stand gunk under my fingernails either.

Our hands are so important ... for me, they are a means of communication.  When I learned to type, I was given a chance to get words out of my head faster than ever before!  I make music with my hands, I bake, I knit, I turn pages of my book, I hold other's hands, I lift my hands in worship and praise.  So much of my life is expressed through these hands.

My father told me he would never allow me to own a saw.  He was so worried that I would cut off one of my hands.  To this day, I still don't own a saw.  Let's say that I just figured out which crafts I wasn't going to be able to do.  Damaging my hands made him cringe.  He and I were carrying a huge log once while working in Kentucky.  It was native lumber and weighed and incredible amount.  Before I could get it settled, he wasn't paying attention to me, set it down and I had all the weight bearing down on me ... smashed my hand between the log and concrete.  I couldn't cry, he was so shocked I just couldn't do that to him.  I knew that it would be fine.  But, I've never seen him so concerned.  Yup, for about 15 years after that, I could feel where my fingers had been smashed.

Another time - I was in junior high.  It was the old high school and the gymnasium had brick walls and concrete risers with bleachers on one side.  We were running laps in gym class and one of my friends grabbed my hand and we began running together around the gym.  All of a sudden, as we turned a corner, she lost control of the situation and lost me.  With the momentum we had built, I had no control, missed the corner and headed straight for the brick wall at a rather high speed.  All I could think to do was put my hand up to protect my head from being crumpled.  When I hit the floor, my head was fine, but two weeks before state music contest, my right hand was in pain!  Luckily, I heal quickly and was ready.

See, I remember the times when my hands have been wounded.  Oh, the worst was when I was still running a printing press.  I stuck my hand in the end of the press to grab a sheet so as to check the quality.  It was something I did a hundred times a day and didn't think about.  But just as I put my hand in, I was distracted and the bars that grip the paper as it moves through the press grabbed my fingers and ripped the nails off started from the bottom of the nail.  Without a word, I left the press, walked to the bathroom and turned on the cold water.  Pretty soon Carol and mom came looking for me and discovered what had happened.  Again, fortunately, I heal quickly and it fixed itself.  This time I didn't have to play the piano anywhere.

My hands are my strength.  I care for them - probably not as much as I should, but at least they're still here for me.  They are a little more wrinkled than they were 25 years ago, sometimes my fingers ache - probably a bit of arthritis, they swell when I retain water, I have a palm that itches a lot and drives me crazy sometimes.  I should probably do more for my cuticles and fingernails, but they are my hands.

It is said that we are Jesus' hands on earth.  We do, in a physical way, for others the things that He would do.  I'll take just a moment for a parable-type idea that's floating around in my mind.  As many different things as I do with my hands, Jesus has need for His people to do.  Every moment, my hands are doing something different.  Every moment someone is doing something different in the name of Jesus. I take my hands for granted all the time, but as I look at them while they type these words, I realize just how cool these hands are.  Jesus doesn't take us for granted, but I'm fairly certain that He looks at us as we do His work and thinks we're pretty cool.

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