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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Hospice Hands.

NB: Every now and again, I'm asked by one of our extended care facilities to do "a little something" with and for the staff, especially after they have suffered a series of losses of long-term patients.  The challenge is to do "a little something" over staff break time (15-20 minutes). Today was one of those days. And, this was one of those "little somethings" I did.

What I remember most about our patient was his hands. Big hands. Gnarled hands. A man’s hands. A man who had worked with his hands all of his life. I especially remember the back of his hand which he swung at me occasionally when he didn’t want to be disturbed.

I also remember the hands of the CNAs who cared for him. I remember how they gently but firmly settled the spoon into his hands so that he might enjoy the dignity of feeding himself. That seemingly insignificant sight moved me deeply every time I saw it. It was such a kind expression of generosity and compassion: allowing as much human dignity as possible to a person whose dignity had become compromised by advanced age and infirmity.

So, I offer this little meditation on hands. Your hands. Hands that are vehicles of kindness and generosity and compassion. Hands that do the work of Divine Love. My hope is that this meditation will lead you to appreciate your hands as much as I do – and all of your patients.


I invite you into a space of quiet and peace, to ground yourself by noticing your contact with chair and floor, by sitting straight, by becoming aware of your breathing. 

Look at your hands. 

They've been through a lot, those hands. They have strength, scars, beauty.

I invite you to remember that it is your hands that do the work of love in the world. 

These hands may hold another's hands.

These hands may write letters to teachers about a child’s illness, sign permission slips and report card notices, sign legal forms, type emails to politicians, mail cards of consolation at grief and congratulation at success.

These hands may patiently teach, or quilt, knit, crochet or sew works of warmth and beauty or write words urging reconciliation and peace.

These hands may bathe children, feed elders, nurse the ill, work the earth, organize communities.

These hands clasp in prayer, open in release, grasp in solidarity, hold up and guard in self defense, proclaim compliance and vulnerability, clench in righteous anger.

These hands are God's hands, your hands, our hands; a great mystery of flesh and intention, a great potential of embodied love. 

God's work of touching and caring, healing and hope happen through your hands.

Now, press your hands lightly together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. Turn to the person on your right, bow your head slightly and say, "Namaste"

Now, turn to the person on your left, bow your head slightly and say, "Namaste."


1 comment:

Colette said...

Beautiful sentiment, and much appreciated.