Holding Hands by Erin Brown

“Christ has no hands or feet on earth but mine”

At the beginning of this week, we went on a spiritual retreat as a way to refresh and re-energize ourselves as we continue our year of accompaniment. We drove to Mount Tabor, a retreat house in the mountains north of Kingston. Mount Tabor is beautiful, it is on top of a mountain. We were truly immersed in nature, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and greenery. Also on this mountain top is a home called the Beatitude House. It is a home for men who are disabled. When we visited there, I immediately found a friend. I don’t know his name, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is his heart, he has the most beautiful soul. He was in awe of his hands, he would just stare at them in fascination. And my hands. We held hands the whole time we were together. And we looked at each others hands in wonder. I moved my hands and fingers in front of him and watched his face radiate pure joy. I traced the lines on his hands. Our hands are awesome. Our hands are true treasures from God. What would we do without our hands? I would argue our hands are the most underrated and underappreciated parts of our bodies! I think that we should all think about all the beautiful things our hands do for us. They write, pray, cook, feed, build, work, share, create, and most importantly, our hands are vessels of love.

I’ve been here for two and a half months and I can confidently say I have held more hands in the past two and a half months than I have in my entire life. Holding so many hands has strengthened my interaction with the world, enhanced my ability to love and connected me with people in a way I have never experienced before.

Holding hands is a physical sign of connection. It says “I am with you” without opening one’s mouth.

Holding hands is a physical sign that we are not alone. Holding the hand of a person who is lonely is more powerful than you can imagine. It absolves their loneliness, if only for an instant. The fulfillment of connection I have received by holding peoples’ hands here has been so beautiful. When I hold people’s hands at the infirmary or at Mustard Seed, I feel like it is more than a physical connection, it is a spiritual connection. I feel a surge of peaceful energy, a source of togetherness. When I hold a person’s hand, I feel my soul saying “I care about you. I desire to journey with you through all your sorrows and joys, person to person.”

In a world where people are feeling more and more disconnected, maybe we should hold each other’s hands more. When is the last time you held someone’s hand?

We should hold each others hands more often. And we should all take more time to appreciate the service our hands do for us. This year, I have the honor of rooming with the wonderful Katherine Lemanski. Among many blessings, Katherine has introduced “treatments” to me. Treatments are when you give your friend a hand massage while sitting across from each other using aromatherapy, lotions and calming music. It cultivates intimate friendship and appreciation for the service each other’s hands.

So my challenge to you is to pay more attention to your hands and the work they do for others. Notice and appreciate your friends’ and families’ hands and the work they do. You learn a lot about a person from their hands. Our hands tell our individual stories of love and pain. They reveal both the sensitivity and strength of human nature. Take the time to connect with your loved ones and hold their hand, they might need it more than you think.