The Thing About Hands

“I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:15b-16a

I can relate to hands, can’t you?  Strong ones, gnarled ones, huge, tiny, soft, capable, calloused, grimy – they come in all varieties.

I have my mother’s hands:  the length of my fingers, the shape of my nails, the skin that is starting to thin.  I notice the similarities more and more as I get older, because it’s her older hands that I recall most clearly.  I find I even fidget with my hands the way she once did, repositioning my rings with my thumb and pinky finger, stiffening and thrumming my fingers when I’m tense.

There’s an extra spark of recognition these days when I look at old photos of her.  She’s rooting through a purse, folding her arms, holding a book.

And she has my hands.

She never learned to play a musical instrument that I know of, but she could type about a jillion words a minute, error-free, whether on a manual typewriter or an IBM Selectric.  When word processing became an option, it was a breeze for her.

She spent hours at the keyboard, fingers flying, typing out the notes she would use to teach her Sunday School class, notes she then printed out in 5 x 8” booklet form.   Sometimes she would even add clip art and decorative embellishments, though no one was going to see her notes but her.

She wasn’t an artist but she was always willing to learn: ceramics, crochet, dress-making – she tried her hand at all.  She was a perfectionist, so smart and yet in many ways so insecure, which meant she always worked harder than most anyone else.

To this day, I treasure the tiny sugar bowl and creamer she shaped and fired in her community center class.  For years I had one of those crocheted doll skirts she made that would fit discreetly over a roll of toilet tissue. (Remember those? The doll stood in the cardboard core).  And I see her clearly in my mind’s eye, bent over the dining room table or kneeling down on the floor, pinning a pattern to fabric.

She penned many a note in the margins of her Bible with those hands and wrote out prayers to her Savior in longhand to tape on the mirror, clip to the refrigerator, or tuck in her purse.  After she died, anything with her handwriting on it became like gold to me, physical evidence of her existence through the words her hands had written.

I love the idea that God wants so much for me to understand the depth of His love for me, He uses human concepts, tangible images I can understand.  Like hands.

Now if I’m fidgeting, if I’m tense, if I nervously ball my fingers into a fist, I think to myself, “Look at me.  I’m turning into Mama.”  And love courses through me like an electric current.  She’s been gone 15 years but she’s really not.  God has given me her hands and I am so thankful.

I think of my mother when I look at my hands and I am reminded of the love I will always have for her.  And I picture Jesus thinking of me when He looks at His hands, with nail scars that bespeak an unfathomable, eternal love.  It undoes me every time.

That’s the thing about hands.

photo credit: <a href=””>Martin Gommel</a> via <a href=””>photo pin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

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