Our hands can be used to harm, to heal, to love, to punish, to communicate, to nurture, or to work. As a doula, my hands are skilled in relief and respite. As an educator, my hands are used to communicate and to demonstrate. As a midwife, my hands will be used to catch and console.
Hands are powerful.
This is the second post in a series about hands. Mothers, doulas, midwives, educators, and nurses hands - they all speak for themselves - stories of regret, forgiveness, empowerment, and love.
My hands are worn. My nails are short, the polish gone, the palms are calloused, and the backs are aging. They are not beautiful hands by any media standards, but, to me, they are more beautiful than diamonds - more precious than rubies.
I see a crescent shaped scar on one finger where, years ago, I threw my hand out to save my child from a burn - and received the burn myself, instead. I see broken and uneven fingernails because I spent the weekend teaching my son the rewards of working the garden. My hands are stained with the paint from a recent art project, and, under the nails, I can still smell the onions that I cut for our dinner. My hands are laborers - they are subjects of love.
They are healers - reaching, gathering, salving, blessing, covering, bandaging, massaging, and loving. My hands have blessed the head of a child whose fever refused to break. My hands have covered an ugly welt with healing salve. They have bound a sprain, iced a strain, bandaged a burn, and wrung cool water over the feet of many a tired and achy foot. My hands are healers.
They are guides - steering, blocking, brushing, encouraging, pressing, and loving. My hands have held a toddlers while crossing the street, they have hastened to hold back a child leaving a playground, they have pointed out landmarks while hiking a park, and they have presented collegiate options to an inquisitive teenager. My hands are guide posts.
They are soothers - rocking, swaying, smoothing, stroking, patting, and loving. My hands have rocked for countless hours, carried for countless days, and swayed for countless years. From wiping away the tears of a little one whose best friend won't talk to her, to smoothing her wedding dress while she frets about her future. My hands were built to sooth the broken heart and lift up the fallen spirit. My hands are soothers.
They are teachers- signing, underlining, pointing, demonstrating, and loving. My hands have held countless books during countless reading times, they have outlined ideas and presented problems. They have checked home work, been smudged with the ink of the inquisitive and the paint of the preschooler. They have related, refracted, and refrained. They are teachers.
They are nourishers -measuring, mixing, chopping, cupping, picking, pruning, and loving. From cupping my breast to a newborns mouth, to guiding a spoon into a toddlers hands; from bringing heirloom recipes to the table of my family, to baking their favorites 'just because'. Berry picking, bread kneading, vegetable chopping, and watching my children's eyes grow in amazement and their limbs grow healthy, my hands are nourishers.
From my hands of labored love my family grows like a well watered tree. Strong and straight, resilient and graceful. Lovingly tended, pruned and picked, patted and trimmed, warmed with the sunlight of my love - this tree is deeply rooted, and widely branching. My hands, they are love. In all things, my hands are love.