Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

3/14 2013

A poem about hands

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Sometimes my mom talks with her hands
As if what is bundled inside
Her feelings, thoughts, emotions, meanings, motives, intentions, passions
All that constructs the fluid terrain of intangibles
Within this elemental entanglement
Were locked and needed escape
And could only through painting a narration
In the dance of her fingers
The slide of her palms
The flick of her wrists
As though her heart didn’t trust that her words were enough to convey
What she had to say
Which may be why I’ve so often seen her lift them both in praise
Or clasp them together when she prays
Hands whose veins I would trace in church, usually during the sermon, on Sundays
Not that the preacher didn’t speak a good word, but those hands kept me entranced
I would scan the landscape of her rough hands
Scour the cracks and crevices and creases
Like a gypsy seeking to unearth a future yet only finding memories
Stories marked by famine, flood and fire, freckled with hope, joy and prosperity
Knuckled swollen from years of basketball that she gave up to start a family
Early mornings and late nights with sick children and stubborn cattle
Palm to palm I’d measure mine to hers
Trying to lie within the lines with which they were defined
And I knew that she loved me because of her hands
That held, swaddled, cradled, cuddled five now adults that she still calls her babies
Hands that joyfully accept my poor attempts at handmade mother’s day gifts
Hands that could mend the seams of ripped jeans and broken hearts
Hands that crafted delicious meals some days only flavored with good intentions
Hands that worked nine hours of hard labor of hospital laundry that came home
and still were willing to do a few more loads
If ever I doubt, I just look at her hands to see what is written there marked with love
Without speaking a word, that’s what my mother’s hands say
Whose hands I hope to have some day
But one of these days those hands will decay, and all that was said will fade
So how much more is spoken in the hands that won’t fade
On whose palms we find the inscription of our names
There engraved on the very hands that gave form to the dust
Knit us in the womb and carries us into old age
Built our foundations
God will not forget us, we know
Because of God’s hands
They have claimed us, that is to whom we belong
So we cannot forget, we each have hands
That hold responsibility for what we sow
If we don’t, and walk around with fists clenched close, allowing only thorns to grow
We must make sure to live with hands that unfold
So the world God created can know they are remembered, and not forgotten
Cherished, even if they are broken
Loved, and not forsaken
That they belong
For God so loved the world
God so loved the world
This we know
Because of Jesus Christ – we can see it in his hands
Who calls us to be those hands and to be his feet
Just as I hope the same hands my mother inherited from her mother
will be bequeathed unto me
For to be the body of Christ, our bodies need to speak
So they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love
They then will see who has claim on us, and who we chose to claim as Lord
Because they’ll see it in our hands

Written by Rebecca Dix, storyteller and M.Div student