I was reading the May issue of the magazine ‘Mangalore’ and came across 2 significant mentions of the word ‘hand’.
One was in the editorial — A Prayer by Pope Francis, “I ask the Lord to stop the epidemic: Lord stop it with your Hand”.
The other was about ‘The giant hand of VYRNWY’ sculpted by Simon O’Rourke in November 2011. The tallest tree in Wales had been storm damaged. ‘The Natural Resource — Wales’ had to fell the tree down for safety reasons, however they left a stump 50 feet high and felt the need to do something with it. Simon O’Rourke was selected from among 3 shortlisted artists. He decided to create a giant hand symbolising the area of woodland, known as ‘Giants of Vyrnwy’ and the tree’s last attempt to reach for the sky! Here are a couple of links: https://www.bbc.com or https://www.treecarving.co.uk
And of course during the pandemic, hands are very much in focus with constant reminders
Wash your hands! Sanitise your hands!
Don’t shake hands! Don’t hold hands!
The saddest one for kids being — No high fives! Not even a low five!
All for our good and that of human kind!
This set me thinking about ‘hands’ — they come in different sizes, colours and textures.
Our hands that we most often take for granted, but what would we do without them?
Let us take a good look at our hands, the palm, the fingers, the finger tips.
Shhhhh, listen to the narrative …… Once upon a time, when we were new born babies, our hands were soft, delicate, perfect or imperfect but beautiful. Remember how they curled around mom’s and dad’s finger in total trust and faith. Our hands helped us to learn so many things by touching and feeling. It would have been impossible to turn onto our stomach and back, and crawl without our hands. Walking and balancing would be a feat. (I fight with teachers who make children walk in a line with their hands clutched behind their back, for how are they going to balance without swinging their hands beside them?) Holding a toy, trying to bring hand to mouth to eat — and the list of things we could do with our hands grew long and meaningful. When we look at our adult hands, each one of us can alone know what is behind the softness, hardness, toughness, roughness, the strength or weakness of our hands.
Our hands have done a lot of learning; from learning to write, draw, paint, sew, cook, play a game — indoor or outdoor, or a musical instrument and so much more.
The beautiful part of our hands is that they were not meant just for ourselves, they were also meant to build relationships with others.
The very act of wishing someone with a ‘Namaste’ (now borrowed by the West during the pandemic) or a ‘Namaskara’ with the right hand placed on one’s heart. Just that one gesture can speak a 100 words. A hand waved in a hello, a thumbs up or a thumbs down, clapped together in joy and appreciation, or even to draw someone’s attention. Just have a look at the emojis and the amazing number of ways the hands are used to express feelings.
Our hands show our relationship with our God (of any faith) joined or folded, outstretched, all symbolising our powerlessness and surrender.
Parents use different kinds of hands in the course of bringing up their children — loving hands, gentle and protective when intuition says there is a problem. Hands used to wipe away tears from the eyes of a troubled child and hands with a cold compress on a fevered brow. However, sometimes the hands used are hard and harsh. One hears that child abuse has seen an upward trend during the pandemic — hitting, slapping, and pushing around. Whatever the provocation, this behaviour is unacceptable. Is that the role model you wish to be?
While talking about children, one should but remember the spouse. Is there a difference between a feminine hand and a masculine hand? Really, I am not talking about the size, structure or texture. Are the hands loving, gentle, comforting, helpful, encouraging, playful, distant, cold, authoritarian? You may perhaps have your own adjectives to describe the hands of your spouse.
Teachers are next only to parents. I am sure that all of you or most of you have heard or read this story. A teacher asked her first grade class to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful. One sad, frail, little boy had drawn something very different from the others. He drew a hand. A hand! but whose hand? The answers were varied, from a farmer, a police man, God, and one child said that it was supposed to be all the hands that help us. Finally, the teacher went up to the boy’s desk and asked him, whose hand it was? He mumbled, ‘It’s yours, teacher’. The teacher went back to her table with tears in her eyes.
There are other hands — friends, siblings, grandparents and the hands of adult children when the roles are reversed, the hands that take care of their aged, possibly ill parents.
Our encounter with hands continues throughout one’s life whether as a dancer, a musician, a plumber, an electrician, an engineer — each and every one and more, that students generally learn under the chapter, ‘People who help us’.
We must not forget that there are special hands that people all over the world have especially experienced during the pandemic and will continue to need, the doctors, nurses, caregivers police, ambulance drivers, priests and others to conduct the last rites of loved ones, the scientists, the pathologists, pharmacists and the list can go on.
That is when we realize that WE ARE ONE PEOPLE. My hands, your hands that reach out to all, regardless of religion, colour, country.
No better time to live the song, “We are the world”
Here are the words of the first verse.
There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift to all.