11 January, 2012

There's Something About Hands

Hands – what incredible symbolism they possess! They truly amaze. The laying on of hands can symbolize the giving of a blessing or perhaps authority. In the Bible – depending on the era – the expression can refer to receiving the Holy Spirit, the ordination of a priest, or the transfer of one’s sins. There are so many possibilities, and they all are significant.

Shaking hands is a practice that is at least 2500 years old. We do it to say hello, we do it to say good-bye, and we do it to congratulate. Two individuals who are in love hold hands, usually interlocking their fingers as they knit two into one. And of course, we hold a child’s hand when we offer guidance or assistance or seek to protect them.

Hands are windows that allow me to see what I might normally not. I know whether I will like someone by how I react to their touch. I even can tell whether I will ultimately trust a physician or therapist by the way that they touch. The bond is instantaneous when it’s right.

A hand doesn’t seem like much – weighing in as it does at less than a pound. Sure, it has twenty-seven bones and nearly four dozen tendons, and there are those who sing praises to a complexity that can at once engage each of forty or more muscles with exquisite dexterity. Others trumpet its seventeen thousand nerve endings - Meissner’s Corpuscles, Merkel Cells, Pacinian Corpuscles, and of course, Ruffini Endings. Fine. I’ll concede that it’s an intricate anatomy and worthy of endless detailing.

Nothing, however, can begin to describe the true wonder of the hand - when those incredible sensitivities interwoven with the richness of human emotion inspire truly transcendent moments of extraordinary power. I find no words in our earthbound languages that can adequately
portray what I feel when touching a fellow traveler on the Journey or when such a traveler touches me. It is simply a gift that represents the very essence of the human experience.


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