the hands that make a home

Looks like it’s been a week since my fingers last tapped in this space.

But in between now and then, my hands were busy. Folding clothes into piles, wrapping dishes in newspaper, stuffing car trunks full of load after load of toys and books and boxes and pictures and plants.

My knuckles scrubbed a kitchen of cabinets from floor to ceiling, then scoured tubs and showers and floors and windows. The skin on my fingertips is rubbed raw from washing dishes and bathroom sinks. To call them “dishpan hands” would be a sore understatement.

I broke nearly all of my nails in the move. Hauling boxes, lugging furniture – it’s not work for the manicured.

So my hands aren’t pretty right now. And neither are either of our houses – the one we’re leaving or the one we’re entering. Living in-between is a dirty, grimy place to be.

But my hands are helping to turn this house into a home. They’ve brushed paint, laid rugs, hung curtains and hammered nails. They’re working hard every day (and night) to transform a strange space into our familiar own. Box by box, room by room, my hands are working alongside many others to make this big move a reality.

Photo by Luisfi

Sometimes I fixate on all that my hands don’t do. Pick up the pen to write. Plunk out a tune on the dusty piano in the corner. Plant more flowers, paint, photograph, prepare gourmet dinners from scratch.

But my hands do a lot. They’re making a house a home. And holding children, changing diapers, making lunches, building blocks, and tickling toddlers, too.

Scripture is full of God’s hands. We pray to be held safe in God’s grasp; we marvel at God’s fingerprints smudged across creation. But not until my hands were wrenched by the work of this move did I stop to sit with this image of God’s hands.

I wonder what God’s hands look like after all the work of creating and repairing and healing. Would God’s hands be wrinkled and weathered? Perfect and smooth? Aching and tired?

Maybe in all the good work that we do – the writing that makes our fingers cramp, the gardening that lines our nails with dirt – we let God work through our hands. Teresa of Avila said Christ has no hands now but ours.

Almost as weighty a prospect as the heavy boxes I’ve still got to unpack tonight.

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  1. Lauren on 31 May 2012 at 9:03 am

    A lovely reflection on the work that we do. I particularly like your focus on the work that your hands do rather than the work your hands don’t do. It’s easy to beat ourselves up for the work we don’t take on–the dishes left in the sink overnight, the vacuuming that goes undone, the letters that remain unwritten. But just because we aren’t doing those particuar things does not mean our hands are idle. They are, most likely, doing other worthy jobs.

  2. Ginny at Random Acts of Momness on 30 May 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Oh, I hear you — packing and unpacking is such a chore! But I love how you tie it in to the work of God. Thanks for giving me something to ponder tonight as I use my own hands to clean, wash, pick up, etc.

  3. Novice Natural Mama on 29 May 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Hoping and praying your new home is wonderful! It’s so much work to get all settled in, but once you’re in, you will just love it. Blessings!

  4. thismummaslife on 29 May 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I love the way you are taking the time to appreciate the work that you have been doing, and the way your body is enabling you to do it. I feel people don’t do this enough. We tend to pick apart our perceived flaws instead of praising the things our bodies do for us.

    We will hopefully be moving soon as well, and I hope I am able to stop and appreciate my strengths through the process.

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