“Look at how beautiful these hands are! Just look at these hands…”
My rheumatologist’s words yesterday stopped me in my tracks. I used to think my hands were beautiful. I remember as a third-grader riding in the carpool, looking at the other girl’s hands and thinking, “I’m so glad my hands are not ugly like hers. “. I loved the way my hands moved as I played the piano. I wasn’t so sure about the art, as my mom said I was the worst student she had ever had. But, I still loved my hands.
And so, as rheumatoid began to twist my hands, it twisted my heart as well. When I would look at my hands, the contempt dripped from my mind: witch’s claws, old lady hands, twisted, broken, useless. This week, a doctor dripped contempt with the words, “you hold your pen weird. Why do you do that?” How could he know how long it took to find a way to hold my pen with the changes that have been wrought from the rheumatoid. And to learn to hold a brush, and bless my artist…this is the journey unseen.
I am beginning to learn that I have the hands of a healer. I place my hand gently on a mama’s belly, and connect with the baby who swims within her womb. I cradle the head of a child as he revisits places of trauma in the dark of night. I create. Color and form move onto paper, redeeming the artist. I place my hands palm up, feet on the floor, listening to story with my whole self.
And so the doctor’s words jolted me. He was gleeful almost; so delighted at the stability of my rheumatoid, at seeing my hands without inflammation. Since the car accident, I have to choose again to be kind to my hands. Right now, I long for someone to tell me I will be a two handed Midwife. I cannot turn my left hand palm up, can I still listen with my whole heart? And, if my hands are broken, can I still be a healer?
The tears flow as I write this last line, the words go straight to the core of my being. Maybe that’s what being a healer is; I offer only my broken hands.
Christ has no body but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which walks to do good. Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours. ”
By Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)