Thursday, October 18, 2012


Decades ago, just about this time of year, I lost my beloved grandfather. So it's no surprise that, when the leaves turn gold and the winds blow brisk, I think of him. Today, I recalled a day when he sat on his patio bench, staring so intently at his hands that he didn't even notice me sit down beside him. It wasn't like him to sit so still and quiet, so I asked "You okay, Grandpa?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, smiling. "I'm fine, thanks."

"Then why are you staring at your hands? Do they hurt?"

He looked down at his hands again. "No, they're fine, too." He flexed the stubby, gnarled fingers, then faced at me. "Have you ever looked at your hands? I mean really looked at them?"
"No," I admitted, opening and closing my own, "I don't suppose I have."
"Well, you should. And while you're at it, think about how well they've served you over the years."
His attention turned to his hands again. "These hands," he continued, "are wrinkled, shriveled, and weak now. But once, they helped me reach out and grab life...put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, my mother taught me how to fold them in prayer, and how to use them to tie my church shoes, and pull on my snow boots.
"They've been dirty, scraped and raw, broken and bent.
"I decorated the left one to show the whole world that 'd married the most special woman on earth, and it trembled the first time I touched her as my wife. They trembled with fear the first time I held our newborn son, with joy as I walked our daughter down the aisle, with grief as I  buried my parents. They've helped me hide my face, comb my hair, and cleanse my timeworn body.
"They're marked by the ruggedness that has been my life. And now, though the rest of me doesn't work so well, these hands still help me stand up and lay down, and continue to fold in prayer. But most important of all," he said, sandwiching my hands between his own, "it will be these hands that God will take hold of when He leads me home...where He will lift me to His side, so that I can touch the face of Christ."

When Death touched my grandpa a few short months later, I took comfort in knowing that God was holding him in His loving hands.
And when the time comes that my own hands look as his did that day, I will remember Grandpa's story, and take comfort in knowing he'll be there to greet me when God takes my hands and leads me Home.