An old man, probably some ninety-plus years, sat feebly on the park bench.
He didn't move, just sat with his head down, staring at his hands. When I sat down beside him, he didn't acknowledge my presence, and the longer I sat, the more I wondered if he was okay.
Finally, not really wanting to disturb him, but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was okay. He raised his head, looked at me and smiled.
"Yes, I'm fine; thank you for asking," he said in a clear strong voice.
"I didn't mean to disturb you, sir, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were okay," I explained to him.
"Have you ever looked at your hands?" he asked. "I mean, really looked at your hands."
I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands, as I tried to figure out the point he was making.
Then he smiled and related this story:
Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though now wrinkled, shriveled and weak, have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back.
As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They dried the tears of my children and caressed the love of my life.
They held my rifle and wiped my tears when I went off to war.
They have been dirty, scraped, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band, they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote the letters home and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle.
Yet they were strong and sure when I dug my buddy out of a foxhole and lifted a plow off my best friend's foot.
They have held children, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand. They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body.
They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day, when not much of anything else of me works real well, these hands still hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer. These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of my life. But more importantly, it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when He leads me home. And He won't care about what these hands look like, but what they have done. What He will care about is to whom these hands belong, and how much these hands have helped others. With these hands He will lift me to His side, and there I will use these hands to touch the face of God.
No doubt I will never look at my hands the same again. I never saw the old man again after I left the park that day, but I will never forget him or the words he spoke. When my hands are hurt or sore, or when I stroke the face of my children or my husband, I think of the man in the park. And I thank God for my hands.
This is a wonderful and special writing. A search of the Internet reveals it in many places, but never gives the author. May God bless all who read this, as they look at their own hands in wonder.
Julie Kay Smithson
- The hand in this photo is one of my dad's. He often picked a small flower -- sometimes a wildflower from the grass in their yard, sometimes a lily of the valley or some other 'pretty' -- and brought it to his wife and lifelong sweetheart, my mom. On this sunny morning in the spring of 2010, he picked this dainty yellow blossom for her, brought it into the house, chose a small brown bud vase, added a little water, and carried it down the hall, placing it in a spot near her bed within view. She returned to Heaven two and a half days later, and though she was no longer conscious when he carefully chose, picked, and quietly presented this flower to her, I believe she knew, for he'd been bringing her flowers for years.
Julie Kay Smithson, property rights / natural resources researcher since 1999. Subscribe to my efforts today & learn how to protect your property rights!