September 3, 2010

His Hands

This photo of my dad holding me is one of my favorites. As I look at it and see his hand carefully protecting me, I am reminded of a poem I wrote about my father's hands in 1997. I wrote this poem the day his brother died. I guess since my uncle had died, I was feeling sentimental and wanted to be sure my dad knew how I felt about him.

His Hands

The bathroom ledge met me at the chest.
I couldn't reach the running water.
He stood behind me, stomach against my head
arms brushing against my ears.
His hands lathered with soap, cupped my little ones in his.
Larger than mine,
they do what I can't.

Time for bed.
I laid in a rumpled mess of sheets.
Insecure, I might fall out.
Standing over me, he pulled the sheets up straight,
and then the blankets.
Methodically, his hands tucked the fabric under my body.
Building a cocoon all around me.
Braver than mine,
they protect me when I don't know how.

My eye sees a boy
charming, sweet trouble.
One hand holds his while the other
raises a fist, saying I'll do things my way.
At home, he takes his pen
and pours out his heart on paper.
His hands unleashing the knowledge of his years.
Wiser than mine,
they direct me when I am blind.

The old lady is at the end of her days.
He may be her only friend.
She comes in to visit quite often,
even at unnecessary times.
Somehow his white coat comforts her.
Hand on her shoulder he assures her
of her place in this world.
More compassionate than mine,
they bring peace when others can't find it.

Seated around the dinner table
holding hands he asks God's blessing.
Standing side by side before our journey
hand in hand he seeks traveling mercies.
Next to me in church, the pastor leads in prayer
and he reaches for my hand.
I know he is praying that I'll have wisdom beyond my years.
More faithful than mine,
they pray for me when I can't pray for myself.

It is Sunday morning again.
I'm off to church.
I've been there thousands of times.
Hair washed and shoes polished.
What are they really trying to say to me?
I hear God speaking, but I don't understand.
I should know after all these years.
He takes his weathered Bible in his hands.
Turning the pages, he explains so simply
what I couldn't grasp.
More Godly than mine,
they reveal God's voice to me when I can't hear it.

I see a hand on a back, my back.
A hand outstretched to shake another.
His hand attached to that arm around my shoulder.
A hand writing a check to give to the church.
A Hand with a scalpel, a bandage, a needle and thread.
Gesturing hands in the middle of a funny story.
Hands caressing a grandbaby's face,
or even rubbing his wife's feet.
His hands are God's instruments,
loving, generous, kind, wise, obedient, patient, healing, forgiving.
The hands of a righteous man, favored by God.
They are all that I am not and all I hope to be.
They are the hands of my father.

written by Stephani, February 2, 1997

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