One of my favorite pictures from my wedding is of my husband and I holding hands. The picture is a close-up of our hands, and in black-and-white, it seems to boil down to the essence of what marriage means to me. It’s a gripping, a clinging, a voluntary holding and clasping.
There’s a story in people’s hands: the work they do and have done, the beauty in contrasting ages and sizes, the intimacy between a long-married couple. I find few things as beautiful as the sight of two hands interwoven, fingers a mesh of togetherness.
Maybe it’s my fascination with hands that makes me think of the rosary in my pocket as a link to holding Mary’s hand. These days, I’m on an audio kick, so I don’t usually have a rosary in my hand; even so, the string of prayers feels like a connection of fingers interlaced, of comfort interspersed with squeezes.
I’ve wondered before what Mary’s hands looked like, and I suspect they would look a lot different than mine. Holding her hand would remind me of the ease of my modern life, of the way I don’t use my hands, of the hard life she led.
It seems like there aren’t a lot of people who really work with their hands anymore. We’ve become a society of office workers, and there’s something to be said for that. Though I’m not sure there’s much glory in working with your hands, there is satisfaction, a satisfaction that comes from the tangible. I think that’s what has always pulled me to agriculture.
Mary would have worked with her hands. It would have been unavoidable. The work I do with my hands is among the most mundane in my life: there’s nothing overtly exciting about doing dishes, folding underwear, making dinner. The typing I do — which is also my work — is pretty ordinary, and all the other ways I use my hands — easy ways, compared to what Mary would have experienced — are really not worth mentioning.
Or are they? So much of what my hands do define who I am and what’s really important about my life. The dishes, the laundry, the meals, the writing, the office tasks — they’re the result of the blessing of my marriage, the work I get to do, proof that God must really love me. From the words my hands type to the household tasks they complete, my hands lead me to the holiness of the everyday.
What story do my hands tell? How do they touch those around me, from the little lives entrusted to me to the strangers I come into contact with? Will I allow them to share God’s love, using them to lead others to Mary’s Son?
Holding Mary’s hand always leads me to contemplate the love that goes into a callus, the work that goes into loving someone, and the pain that accompanies great work. Whether it’s in a rosary or just a grab for support, she always leads me to where I need to go, right to Jesus’ lap.
Sarah Reinhard is a Catholic wife, mom and author whose nose is probably in a book if she’s not scraping something off of her shoes. Her latest book is A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism. Check out all of her books at http://sarahreinhard.com/writing/my-books/.
Visit Sarah’s website: http://sarahreinhard.com/
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