The hand I held today was soft and small. She climbed out of the backseat, all smiles, and immediately reached for my hand. The cool air, uncommon for this time of year, greeted us as she clasped my hand tightly, confident in my ability to guide her. It was time for her Kindergarten screening, and her excitement brimmed over into nervous chatter as we walked steadily along the sidewalk. She’d been asking all week how many days until she could see her new school, and meet her new teachers. Today was the day. Though thrilled, now that the day had dawned, she was also nervous. Nervousness prompted this fiercely independent child of mine to reach for my hand, giving her a sense of peace and confidence that all would be well.
The hand I held Wednesday was smaller still. It wasn’t all that long ago, just a couple of years actually, that he could only grip one of my fingers in his tiny fist. To be so small, his grip was so strong. He would hold my finger tightly, not wanting to let go. But he’s bigger now. Of course to me, he’s still my baby, but his perception of himself is much different. He’s a “big boy,” independent like his older sister, and doesn’t always need a hand to hold. We exit the church, sunshine blazing down. I reach for his hand as we cross the parking lot, but he jerks away, wanting to run and splash in puddles without any hindrance, wanting to chart his own course, assured that he knows the way.
The hand I held Sunday made mine feel small. It’s the hand I’ve been holding for years now. It’s the hand I held at The Olde Pink House in Savannah when I said “Yes,” the hand I held walking down the aisle, the hand I held (or perhaps squeezed for dear life), while giving birth. This hand holds commitment within its grasp even when the way is not smooth, and all things spoken aren’t kind. This hand reaches out to me in companionship and solidarity during days that at times, feel fragmented. This hand brims with love.
The hand I held in March was darkened by age and softly wrinkled by years of living. We slushed through a late snow fall, enjoying the white softness, and I steadied her steps as we traveled. Decades ago, this same hand steadied me when I visited my grandmother as a child. We would stand by the pond’s edge and she’d hold my hand, as my grandfather lobbed the line from the cane pole into the deep water, hoping for a bite. Now, through the passage of time, the roles have reversed, and it’s my turn to help steady her unsure footing and guide her path.
The hand I held last year was cool and slightly trembling. We sat together, rigid and straight, in the hard, cold, waiting room chairs. This friendship had traversed years of both life giving moments and life altering tragedies. More often, her hand was the one doing the holding, as I waded through deep waters and at times felt myself sinking. This hand had held mine during times of deep sadness and times of great joy. But now it was my turn. In this age of thousands of social media “friends”, there is still something powerful in having an actual hand of friendship to hold, when life’s uncertainties lurk just past the waiting room door.
There is one other hand I hold.
It holds me when I am nervous and walking a new path.
It beckons me back when I run ahead, certain of my own way.
It delivers unfailing, agape love even when I feel unlovable.
It steadies me when the ground I walk is undulating.
It comforts me in times of deep anxiety, stress and sorrow.
God’s hand is Goodness, Mercy, Grace and Love.
So no matter the path you are on, no matter where you’ve been, no matter how broken you feel, you can rest assured. . .
You always have a Hand to hold.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”