Today at the feeding ministry we all held hands. We looked at each other, focusing on the people who befriend us and help us on our way. Then we prayed for God to help us sense our innate dignity and worth.
There is something sacred about human hands. In my left hand I held Carolyn’s hand. She had just mentioned being finally processed for housing, and we had celebrated with a high five, you know, that thing with your hands connecting in mid-air.
On my left was a man I had just met, whose name I did not yet know. When I prayed the part about God helping us remember our innate dignity, he squeezed my hand. Men off the street who you do not know are not always interested in holding hands, much less squeezing them in a prayer. So I bet that phrase meant something to him.
Earlier in the day we held a sacred yoga session. The whole hour was infused with a sense of prayer as we opened our hearts to God’s presence. We used our postures of the hands and body to express what was in our hearts. We listened to beautiful yoga music and practiced touching stillness and dwelling in being.
When we were done with the actual yoga practice we shared hugs and affirmed our sincere affection for one another. We used those hands to say things without words like: “Sharing spiritual community with you makes my heart glad.”
Next week we will have another opportunity to gather as a diverse spiritual community for a Blessing the Hands service at my church. We will listen to some readings about the significance of blessings from Rachel Naomi Remen’s book: My Grandfather’s Blessing. We will hear Celtic blessings from John O’Donohue. We will listen to contemplative instrumental music with several live musicians. And we will anoint each other’s hands and speak a blessing for the new year of service to come.
Once again we will touch hands, sacred hands, hands that represent the vulnerable beings which we are. The touching of hands and the blessings spoken will mean: “your life and service of the world matter. You matter. You belong in our community. We need you to be you, and to share your gifts with the world.”
Blessing the hands is really blessing the lives of each person present. And in this life we could all use more blessing. May we find the Sacred present with us again as we anoint and bless the hands of all who come. And may we remember to touch the stillness and dwell in being as we prepare to enter a new year of service. Amen.