I have always been fascinated with hands and the stories they tell of their owners' lives. I've found that just as the eyes are the window to the soul, so are hands the mirror of the heart. In fact, one way to contemplate life is to contemplate hands.
A baby’s tightly clenched fist quickly opens to grasp an offered finger in an expression of perfect trust. A child’s hands are ever active – covered with dirt, colored with paint, wrapped with band-aids as she learns to labor and labors to learn about the world around her.
A youth’s hands have gained self-control and learned skills that allow him to work, play and communicate with others.
Young lovers’ hands are entwined in expressions of eternal hopes and dreams.
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A mother’s hands express tenderness, love and caring, while a father’s hands demonstrate the dignity of honest labor and tireless toil, whether in manual labor or the use of electronic marvels.
And the weathered, bent-fingered hands of seniors show knowledge and wisdom of a lifetime.
In most religious texts, hands play a prominent role. What a person does (or how he uses his hands) is an outward expression of what is in his heart.
Moses raised his hands and parted the Red Sea, allowing God’s power to work through him to save his people. Noah used his hands to build the life-saving ark, demonstrating his obedience. Ruth showed her devotion to her mother-in-law Naomi by gleaning in the fields.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he used his hands to bless and heal, to break sacramental bread, and wash his disciples’ feet – all expressions of deep love and service.
And his selfless sacrifice on the cross is evidenced by deep scars in the palms of his hands.
While these examples reference the good that has been done by hands, the Scriptures are filled with stories of evil exercised by the hand of man.
Unfortunately, even today there seems to be no end to the harm human hands can inflict.
When you look at your hands, what story do they tell? Are you using them for good or do you need to change your actions? Are they active or idle? Are they clean or soiled? Are they a reflection of your inner self, of your heart? Are you pleased with what your hands say about you?
At the end of my life, I hope I have used my hands well. I hope they have not been clenched in anger or frustration but open to serve and show my love through action. I hope I have not sat idly on my hands but been anxiously engaged in many good causes. I hope I have raised my hands in praise to God, and clasped them in fervent prayer. I hope my hands are the mirror of my heart, and that I will be worthy to accept that hand which reaches for mine as I hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Barbara Erickson Cooke is director of public affairs, Lacey Washington Stake, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Perspective is coordinated by Interfaith Works in cooperation with The Olympian. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Interfaith Works or The Olympian.